Hello all,

A slightly belated Happy New Year from the CISLI Committee! We hope you had a relaxing holiday period and that the New Year isn’t too busy so far!

January has already seen very encouraging moves on the Irish Sign Language Bill, moving to Committee stage in the Seanad very soon, with the IDS asking Deaf people to send submissions. We have also been urging CISLI members to give us feedback and their own thoughts on the Bill’s provisions on interpreting services. This is a landmark piece of potential legislation, and will affect every interpreter if it is passed.

To this end, we met with the IDS, SLIS, and the Centre for Deaf Studies on 20 January, and we began to explore the common ground the four organisations have on recognition of ISL and other related issues. CISLI was careful to stress the need for

  • strong interpreter representation in decision-making at any interpreter registration body proposed
  • the importance of assessment of interpreters for higher-level domains being included eventually into any registration programme
  • We also made clear that the issues go beyond just having a large enough pool of interpreters. How interpreting work is procured, supplied, structured, allocated and paid for, are also vital components of a stable interpreting profession, and cannot be ignored in the event of any recognition of ISL.

Our Chairperson also met with John Stewart of SLIS on the 10th January to further discuss SLIS’ proposed Voluntary Registration for interpreters, as well as the CDS Report commissioned by SLIS and in relation to the registration processes for interpreters in other countries. CISLI have been clear in pointing out the need for any such registration to function across all agencies, for registrants to be members of professional associations like CISLI, and other key points.

These are rapid developments on interpreter registration, by well-funded bodies with far above the operational capacity of CISLI. This means that the future of the currently defunct Board of Evaluators of Interpreting (BEI) project may need to be considered carefully by CISLI. However, CISLI’s core principles attached to that project will remain at the heart of the organisation, even if the concrete form in which those principles eventually take shape may not be the exact body we previously envisaged. These principles include:

  • partnership with the Irish Deaf Society in any new interpreting policy ventures
    assessment for higher level interpreting domains
  • full consultation with interpreters before any new registration or licensing system is begun
  • the importance of structured professional mentoring for new interpreters
  • a robust and transparent mechanism for handling grievances in relation to interpreting assignments
  • international cooperation and following documented best practice
  • an active and constructive relationship with the Centre for Deaf Studies

We are currently developing a CISLI Strategy, an important document that will set out our core beliefs, aims and objectives for the short and medium term. More on this as it develops.

We have been shocked – but not entirely surprised – at the results of recent research into the income of interpreters. Seeing the average full-time income of a sign language interpreter just marginally above the average starting salary of an Irish graduate is sobering. This reflects not just the lack of value society places on professional interpreting, but also the lack of value they place in Irish Sign Language, and indeed, communication between Deaf and hearing people. If we cannot provide a stable, well-paid career for sign language professionals – Deaf and hearing – how can we expect people to stay interpreters? CISLI will continue to campaign for those working as interpreters, and do our utmost to help increase retention of people in the field. We will seek improved working conditions on all fronts so that interpreters are motivated to stay in the profession as long as they can.

We would just like to take the opportunity to thank Senan Dunne, IDS representative, for his work with CISLI. He is stepping down from the position. Senan’s work for CISLI has been hugely valuable and he will be missed. We will let you know of the two new IDS reps on CISLI as soon as we can.

We have also had a busy year with our Sub-Committees. Take a look!

Occupational Health and Safety Sub-Committee: The Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) Committee plan to draw up a Health & Safety Policy and to obtain an industry standard. From the past number of months, the subcommittee has gathered information from other established organizations around the world to identify what health and safety standards are present in other countries. Our research aims to see what are the standard practices for interpreters’ signing duration and what adequate breaks are provided. Incorporating all of this information the OHS committee will draw up a Health & Safety policy document on behalf of CISLI, to work towards developing an industry standard in Ireland with the hope that interpreting agencies in Ireland would abide by the same standards. Additionally, we are currently consulting with physical therapist Rory O’ Donnell who is assisting in researching repetitive strain injury (RSI). This will be combined with CISLI’s policy document. While this document is focus on interpreting standards, the importance of ‘eye breaks’ for Deaf people must also be taken into consideration. We are hoping to have the draft document ready in the coming month, which will be shared with the general public. Anthony Claffey

Training Sub-Committee: In the past 6 months, we have organised two events, one a workshop and the other an evening information session (followed by a social gathering). Both events were well attended by both active and associate members. As per our terms of reference the event in October was held outside of Dublin and was facilitated in the Deaf Centre in Limerick. The training was for Deaf and Hearing Interpreters and focused on how to best work together. Led by Teresa Lynch and Frankie Berry, participants (29 in total) were first introduced to Teresa’s thesis research and then the afternoon was spent in a very interactive role play scenario. Many people who work in roles not traditionally assumed to be Deaf Interpreting roles were invited to join us on the day and became associate members. They all realised that while they do not view themselves as Deaf Interpreters in their full time work they are indeed acting in an Interpreting capacity at times and would benefit from attending more training in the future. The feedback from the event overall was very positive, members felt that the introduction to Deafhood given by Teresa was fascinating and the afternoon role plays were beneficial for both the experienced and inexperienced alike.

The second event was held in the CDS in December. It was and quick fire information session with two presenters. We are hoping these information sessions will become a bi-monthly event. The aim is to update members on any relevant research or findings that are relevant to the profession. Again this event was very well attended (approx 25-30 attendees). Caroline McGrotty presented on her thesis research in relation to Deaf people’s experience of using and accessing interpreters in 3rd Level education. Dr John Bosco Conama then followed with a presentation on the ISL recognition bill and what it may mean for interpreters. Both presentations were well received and members felt the value in having these quick-fire information sessions to keep them up to date with developments in both our profession and the community we work with. Following on from that the CISLI committee organised a pre-Christmas / December social night which was also well attended.

At the end of 2016 beginning of 2017 unfortunately two of our committee had to step down. Cormac and Mary both gave us valuable insight and support as part of the team and they will be missed greatly. As the committee is now made up of 4 but only 2 being active members we are hoping to recruits one more person to join us and help us to shape a valuable 2017 for all the members. It is envisaged that we will have our next information evening in February followed by a training event in March which will coincide with the CISLI GM. We are currently consulting with members to ascertain their training needs and also their areas of interest for the evening sessions. Lisa Harvey

Grievance Procedure Research Sub-Committee: The CISLI committee identified a need to investigate the process of some type of complaint procedure and in order to accomplish that they asked for a research sub-committee to be set up. There are two CISLI committee members on the sub-committee (Pauline Mc Mahon and Frankie Berry), as well an active member (Lisa Harvey), and two outside consultants (Joanne Chester and Caroline Mc Grotty) on the sub-committee. The subcommittee is not there for setting up a complaints procedure but rather it is to investigate what is best practice worldwide, to correlate that information and to hand that back to the CISLI committee. In gathering that information, local (Irish), sign and spoken language agencies will be contacted and asked for their company’s grievance/complaints procedure. The sub-committee had their first meeting just before Christmas to set out a plan of action and to agree on Terms of Reference. The sub-committee will meet again in February/March 2017. All members of the committee work full time and are involved in many other projects and committees for both personal and connected to work. This will not be a quick process but is on the way. Pauline McMahon

We have a General Meeting for all CISLI members in Dublin on Thursday evening 23 March, and we hope to have a training event in Dublin that same week – possibly Saturday. Please watch this space. Keep an eye on your email, the CISLI Facebook page, our website, and the ISL interpreter WhatsApp group for more information!


Council of Sign Language Interpreters