Our experiences as customers of sign language interpreting services, along with experiences other consumers have shared with us, have been poured into the formation of SILAN.

One of the first things we did was to meet with local sign language interpreters, who shared with us their frustrations with sign language agencies providing services in New York City. Their frustrations, our experiences, and the experiences of other consumers had a common emphasis: the importance of matching an interpreter’s skill set with the appropriate appointment, and ensuring that interpreters have advance visibility into the details of an appointment to allow time to prepare.

Evaluating an interpreter’s skill set is no easy matter. There are a few interpreter certification bodies: the National Association of Deaf (NAD), Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI), and the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT). Some certifications are generalist in nature; others are specialized.

We decided to explore and try to find a solution for evaluating an interpreter’s qualifications that fits our philosophy and vision when it comes to providing optimal interpreting services. RID developed a framework about professionalism, even going so far as to release a standard practice paper (SSP) that illustrates the expectations of each sign language interpreter and how they should behave during any interpreting work. Our interpreters are expected to maintain the professionalism laid out in the SPP, as well as the NAD/RID Code of Professional Conduct, but we go further in performing in-house evaluations of our interpreters to further determine which types of appointments they are qualified for.

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