Keynote Presenter

Keynote Presenter

for WASLI Conference 2011

We are pleased to announce Colin Allen as the Conference Keynote Presenter.


Think Globally, Act Locally 

One of the challenges facing sign language interpreters around the world is how to draw together global developments and local action to make the most use of both in their own contexts. This paper will outline some of the global developments affecting sign language interpreting before discussing case studies that illustrate which factors lead to successful local action for both sign language interpreters and Deaf communities.

One recent international milestone is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).  Access to information and interpreting in all spheres of life is now enshrined in global policy, which provides the best guide for people seeking to improve the quality of professional interpreting services and satisfy the needs of Deaf communities in local contexts. The growing body of research into sign languages and Deaf communities is another key international development. This paper will outline the implications of the UNCRPD for interpreters and their local associations and governments, and how research critically informs the recognition of sign languages.

The World Federation of the Deaf recognises that potentially as many as 90% of the world’s Deaf children and adults in developing countries have never been to school. The empowerment of Deaf communities is a key concern for interpreters worldwide. This paper will present three case studies of projects that illustrate the positive effects of collaboration between interpreters and Deaf people. The factors for success are research, ongoing training, advocacy, shared responsibility and above all collaboration.

Unity is the key to success

Unity between global development and local action

Unity between sign language interpreters and Deaf communities

Juan Druetta introduces the Keynote Speaker –


Colin Allen has a wealth of experience in working in the international Deaf sector.  Between September 2000 and May 2007, Colin was employed by the Finnish Association of the Deaf and had postings in Albania, Cambodia and Kosovo.  Colin has conducted survey projects in Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Turkey in collaboration with national Deaf Associations and sign language interpreters in those countries.

In 2007 Colin started as an International Project Co-ordinator for the Global Education Pre-Planning Project on the Human Rights of Deaf People conducting regional survey work of Deaf people and sign language interpreters in six regions (93 countries) with the World Federation of the Deaf. He has presented conference papers in human rights and interpreter access around the world including at the University of Tokyo, International Deaf Day in Paris, and SINOSZ International Conference “Human Rights. Yes!” in Budapest.

Colin brought to his role in international Deaf community and interpreter development many years experience as a practising relay interpreter (being one of the first people in Australia to perform the role of a relay interpreter in a professional context) and skilled advocate in the promotion of interpreting services both in Australia and internationally. As President of Deaf Australia (National) for nine years, he was instrumental in the establishment of the partnership between Deaf Australia and the Australian Sign Language Interpreters’ Association (National).  In 2003 Colin was elected a board member of the World Federation of the Deaf.   After nine years working with Deaf people and sign language interpreters in developing countries, he is now Director of Services at the Deaf Society of New South Wales in his home city of Sydney, Australia.