Leadership in Sign Language Interpreting: Where are We?
History of Leadership
It is difficult to discuss the history of leadership in the field of sign language interpreting without first selecting a starting point for our history as a “field.” Some consider this point the juncture at which the shift from volunteer interpreter to paid interpreter began, and the time at which training standards and rules of conduct for the practice of sign language interpreting started to become formalized.
Birth of a Field
The juncture at which this shift from volunteer to paid interpreter is most easily identified as June 17, 1964 – the opening date of the Workshop on Interpreting for the Deaf at Ball State Teachers College in Muncie, Indiana. The purpose of this workshop, and later of RID, was
“…to establish standards for interpreters for the deaf; to suggest training, curricula, and criteria for admission to training courses for interpreters; to develop a manual and/or other guidelines for interpreters for the deaf, both for the hearing and the deaf individuals involved; and to collect and identify the manuals and booklets dealing with dactylogy” (Fant, 1989, p.2).
It was at this workshop that two men, and later a total of 64 workshop participants, discussed the idea of forming an organization of interpreters that could also “assess interpreter competency and maintain a registry of them so consumers could be assured of receiving quality service” (Fant, 1989, p.1-2). RID was born as a result, and thus marks our official beginning as a “field.”
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