In the United States, lawyers have to pass the Bar Examination to practice, while doctors have to take their Board exams. What strikes me about this model vis-à-vis accreditation exams say for the E.U., U.N., or DoS is that the examinations are administered by professional associations, and not by employers.
The interesting thing about accreditation exams, such as those I mentioned above, is that the employer controls both supply and demand; this gives them more leverage when negotiating (or imposing) working conditions and standards.
In light of this, my question is the following: why has it been such a major challenge (in the U.S. and other countries) for interpreters to establish barriers for entry into the profession such as the Bar or the Boards?
Along the lines of this topics... Increasingly I am seeing (at least in the United States) that agencies themselves are dictating the dialogue on interpreters' working conditions and standards. Often these agencies are billion dollar publicly traded companies, making this an even more sinister side of the issue.
Continually I see professional associations (notably the ATA and Interpret America, though they are by no means the only ones) putting on conferences, seminars, giving talks around the world, with blatant sponsorship from some of the most exploitative (and deep-pocketed) entities out there- Transperfect, Cyracom, Lionbridge, to name just a few.
As a profession, how do we take on this challenge- which seems insurmountable- and maintain a minimum standard of professionalism, respect, and working conditions? How do we raise AIIC's profile in the face of the agency scourge? It seems Sisyphean at best when the best-known entities out there are lining their wallets with money from the very groups who are leading the charge to commoditize our work and turn us into a by-the-minute iPhone app.
answered 24 Mar '15, 05:55
Hi Anyuli - interesting question, yours, although not novel.
I take it that by "barriers" you mean "ensuring that candidates meet our standards, if they want to join us", right? :-)
As I'm sure you realise, the examples you quote of professional associations able to "control" entry are what in continental Europe we'd call "public (law) associations", ie those that States delegate public powers to... simultaneously making membership compulsory for practice. They do so because they acknowledge a public interest in so doing :-), ie all things considered, no public authority other than the associations so acknowledged would do a better job of administering professional entrance examinations and inter alia ethical discipline for those professions.
Perhaps misguidedly :-) - but probably understandably so - public authorities across countries have so far been unwilling to equate a botched interpretation with a misdiagnosis or incompetent representation of a defendant... and have thus been unwilling to endow our profession with a similarly empowered organisation... which might perhaps - to use your examples - bring health and court interpreting, their practice and organisation as well as contextual likelihood of achieving said recognition (and what that could mean for good ol' conference interpreting) under new light, what?
answered 23 Mar '15, 12:09
Hi Anyuli, this is an excellent question! I am not certain, but the ATA might have looked into making their accreditation more of a certification, though it seems to have been rolled out only to the translator members of the association and not the interpreters - at least from what I can tell.
One of the characteristics of a good certification program is requiring those certified to go through some type of continuing education regularly. This would mean that one of our professional organizations would have to define what that would entail, how many hours per year, in what fields, what would qualify, who has satisfied the criteria, etc. etc. Enough work to set up another committee for any organization!
I definitely agree with MSR (as I do in many things), joining and pitching in, with new ideas or new approaches to old ideas, is always a great first step. He is right also, that as long as the States themselves don't see that bad interpretation leads to as serious consequences as bad legal counsel or bad medical advice, that interpretation can help build a healthy body politic, then we will never have that power to regulate ourselves the way that doctors and lawyers do.
answered 26 Mar '15, 18:50