UK first for international interpreting conference

Night picture of campus

Aston University has just successfully hosted the 6th international Critical Link conference. It is the first time that a conference with a focus on public service interpreting has taken place in the UK.

This unique event has brought together representatives from every sphere of the worldwide community of public service interpreting, including academics, interpreting practitioners, employers, trainers, policy makers, service providers and service recipients. The aim was to shed new light on the vital role that public service/community interpreters play in our world.

Professor Christina Schaeffner from Aston University’s School of Languages & Social Sciences, who organised the event said: “This conference is of world-wide importance and will provide a forum for researchers, trainers and practitioners. It has provided a unique link between Aston University’s research in this area and wider professional practice and academic research. As such, we invited public service employees such as police and health professionals to attend the conference.

It still happens too frequently that family members perform interpreting tasks in medical and legal settings instead of qualified interpreters. There is also not enough training provision in the UK, let alone government support for training courses. The conference will therefore have a significant role to play in raising awareness of some of the key issues around community interpreting.

The theme of the conference is Interpreting in a Changing Landscape and the overall aim was to explore political, legal, human rights, trans-national, economic, socio-cultural and sociolinguistic aspects of public service/community interpreting.”

More than 250 abstracts for papers, workshops and panels have been received. They address key strands in interpreting research and practice including the role of the state in the certification of public service interpreters, national and political responsibility for service provision, codes of ethics and conduct, regulation of interpreters and interpreting services and the rights of immigrants and asylum seekers to communication services.

Other strands to the conference included the use of innovative new practice and technologies to improve public service interpreting such as webstream interpreting, interpreting in conflict zones and the ‘virtual courtroom’.

Christina continued: “The Critical Link International Committee decides on the venue of the conference on the basis of bids. Our successful bid has been a major achievement for Aston and we hope that the conference has enhanced the public visibility and status of community interpreting in Birmingham and the UK.”

The conference took place between 26-30 July 2010.

Professor Christina Schaeffner 

Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research