Sadaqat Ali: My concerns for the interpreting industry

Posted on June 28, 2012



I have been connected with the Deaf community all my life (I am deaf myself) as a user of interpreting services, as a mentor for young Deaf people and as the leader of several charities for the Deaf. I have also consulted in the running of a small interpreting agency.

I am increasingly concerned about the situation with interpreting today – especially as it impacts on the end user: Deaf people. As an insider, the reality of how the interpreting industry works is known to me, particularly the fact that so much of what people hear about is the edited truth.

Interpreters fees being squeezed

The state of the economy, plus budget cuts in the UK has led to interpreting fees being squeezed, which in turn has led to many examples of interpreters not being paid a fair rate. Without doubt this situation must change. I am a strong supporter of interpreters receiving fair pay and there are many instances of bad practice such as unqualified interpreters being commissioned in place of appropriately experienced professionals.

All of this has a very negative impact on end users, even more so in situations such as medical appointments, in court and so on.

The main point is, why are things not improving? Is it because the interpreting world is busy fighting its ground with the purse holders who are, in turn, busy battling with budget cuts, losing focus on the end users in the process?

Let’s make change happen

Why don’t we put aside our differences and work together for the benefit of the end user? The Deaf person.

No one will benefit if the reputation of Interpreters is eroded and their fees cut to the bone, while clients work with less-qualified interpreters just to save money, and agencies continue to take unjustifiably high fees.

I can foresee a downward spiral leading to really good interpreters leaving the industry, and where will that leave the Deaf users? Some great signers are leaving the profession, and if this continues, we will be left with only sub-standard interpreters, a situation that will help no-one.

Am I painting an unnecessarily bleak picture? What are your views?

I have got some plans and ideas for improvements but what are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from interpreters, and most particularly end users. Let’s focus on moving forward, finding solutions and making change happen.

I am consulting with a number of people in the interpreting industry to move things forward, but the more people who get involved, the better the solutions.

Sadaqat Ali is a social entrepreneur who is deaf who counts among his aims improving life for deaf people. He is CEO of the Copious Rain Group , the umbrella group (pardon the pun!) for a number of companies. His aim is to identify issues and problems in communities of all types then find and implement remedies – whether that is creative, innovative or financial.

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