Archive for June, 2018

Chairperson’s Report, for AGM – 7 July 2017

Hello all,

Many thanks for your presence here at the CISLI AGM, and your continued support over the last twelve months. Once again, we have had a frenetic year in 2017-18 with some major developments.

With regard to membership, we doubled our Active membership during 2016-17; we are now happy to say that the last twelve months has seen this category increase to 51 (as of the end of May 2018). In other words – since mid-2016 we have tripled the number of full members we have in the organisation. CISLI can now claim to be the voice of a substantial majority of the working interpreter population in Ireland (51 and upwards, from c.70-80 working interpreters). And we don’t intend to stop there, as we seek to have as many professional interpreters as possible join up; we have called also for all members of the new SLIS Register to be members of a professional Irish interpreter association. Please do visit our webpage,, for instructions on how to pay your membership online (including an ultra-handy PayPal option!), and remember to do the same in January for the 2019 year.

Our sub-committees have been busy, too:

• Our Training Sub-Committee continues to do sterling work with a talented and enthusiastic team, working with partners such as Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS), the Centre for Deaf Studies in Trinity College Dublin, and the Designs Project, to coordinate and deliver a regular programme of events.

• Our Occupational Health & Safety Sub-Committee released its Occupational Health and Safety Policy, a working document containing recent research to help address the issues we are hearing about from working professionals. The OHS Policy intends to establish and maintain a professional and recognised standard of best practice in Health and Safety for interpreters which has been lacking in Ireland for quite some time. It is a set of standards we expect agencies, Deaf organisations, and colleagues to follow and fully support.

• We have at long last established a Deaf Interpreter Sub-Committee which we hope will look intently at this burgeoning and significant field within interpreting.

• Our Policy and Strategy Sub-Committee has put together the CISLI Strategy 2019-2022 document which we shall (hopefully) adopt at this year’s AGM to guide our future work.

• We also have a CISLI representative on SLIS’ IRIS Sub-Committee – Lisa Dunne, ably assisted at times by Pauline McMahon.

Externally, things have also been very active. The Irish Sign Language Act 2017 was passed in December. CISLI are astounded and gratified to see the sheer amount work of the Irish Deaf Society, our partners, on this Bill. We can also proudly say that we were involved in much of the discussions leading up to the final version of the Bill, ensuring that registration was made compulsory for interpreters and pressing firmly for the right of Deaf users of remote interpreting services to decide when they wished to have a face-to-face interpreter instead. The passing of the Irish Sign Language Act 2017 has been an absolute watershed in campaigning for Deaf rights and provision of Irish Sign Language interpreting in Ireland.

But this does not mean our work on this front is finished; quite the opposite. The Act assigns the Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS) responsibility to administer a new Register, membership of which will be compulsory for those interpreting in public bodies; IRIS will be expanded, leading to a significant number of contracted remote interpreters in Ireland, delivering exciting new possibilities and posing new challenges. And delayed commencement of the Act, plus any other delay by the State in full implementation of the Act, pose problems for even getting even the basic provisions of the Act effectively in force. This will be a major challenge for CISLI in the years to come. Interpreters (through CISLI and in partnership with IDS) must continue to work to deliver the benefits promised by the ISL Act.

CISLI was represented at the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters (efsli) in Toulouse in September 2017, when Cormac Leonard, Pauline McMahon and Amanda Mohan (along with a large Irish contingent!) made the trip to the South of France for a stimulating conference. We hope also to have a presence at the 2018 efsli AGM and Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

We should remember the loss of one of our founding CISLI Steering Group members, and a seasoned and pioneering interpreter and trainer, Evelyn Conroy. Evelyn passed away in March 2018, and her loss is a huge one both to the interpreting profession, and personally to the many people in the Deaf and interpreting communities who knew her and worked with her. She will not be forgotten.

It’s been a very busy year for a very busy group of people in our Committee. I personally want to thank Frankie, Pauline, Imelda, Anthony, Amanda, Ciara, Wendy and Elaine for the fantastic support I have received as Chairperson from them over the last two years. I want to thank our outgoing Treasurer, Pauline McMahon for her hard work in getting the organisation’s finances and procedures kept running smoothly. We welcome new CDS graduates who received their results recently – we hope to have you as members, if you’re not already! We welcome also the many prospective professional Deaf interpreters who have joined as Associate members; CISLI will continue to work towards greater training and recognition for Deaf interpreters within CISLI and the interpreting field more generally.

Cormac Leonard
Council of Sign Language Interpreters

Major CISLI developments and work carried out during 2017-2018

June 2017 CISLI Annual General Meeting
July 2017 Meeting with IDS to reaffirm partnership
Sept 2017 CISLI Health & Safety Report published
Sept 2017 EFSLI Conference in Toulouse & ‘What’s Up, Doc?’ Conference
Sept 2017 CPD – Self-Employment for Interpreters
Sept 2017 CISLI Extraordinary General Meeting – Adoption of CISLI Occupational Health and Safety Policy
Oct 2017 Press Release – failure to provide interpreters for info announcements re Hurricane Ophelia
Nov 2017 General Meeting in Limerick – ‘Beyond the Pale’
Dec 2017 CPD – Self Care workshop
Dec 2017 Irish Sign Language Act 2017 passes
Jan 2018 CPD – Interpreting Systems, Chris Stone
April 2018 General Meeting in Dublin – CISLI Strategy draft presented with discussion
April 2018 CPD – Interpreting in Workplace Settings (with Designs team)
May 2018 CPD – Palliative Care (with Centre for Deaf Studies)
May 2018 ‘Summer Camp’ networking event for new interpreters
June 2018 Liaising with Irish Penal Reform Trust (with IDS) on needs of Deaf prisoners in Irish prisons


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General Meeting(s) in Dublin, April 2018 – discussion of CISLI Strategy 2019-2022

CISLI recently held two separate meetings as part of the yearly Dublin General Meeting with the specific purpose of examining the draft CISLI Strategy 2019-2022 document prepared by the Policy and Strategy Committee.

The GMs were poorly attended. Each had just two non-Committee interpreters show up. Nevertheless each time we took the opportunity to have a discussion around the Strategy and possible additions / amendments. These are some of the additional points that came up from the meetings.

Complaints Procedures: There is a need to push strongly for effective and clear:complaints procedures and to lay down the process a Deaf person (or interpreter) needs to follow when they have a grievance. The information collated by the CISLI Grievance Procedure Research sub-committee needs to be collated and followed up on. Complaints need to be anonymised by someone handling the complaints at first so that they can thereafter be handled impartially by any complaint handling body. It also needs to be established what the hierarchy of complaints is, i.e. does a complaint first attempt to be solved locally with an agency, then with CISLI / SLIS Register if response is unsatisfactory? At the moment we need to do some advocating – we cannot implement a complaints process yet but we can certainly take details of a particular situation and write a response to it.

Involvement in Deaf Community: Many interpreters simply do not get involved in the Deaf community sufficiently. Mixing with the Deaf community is essential for standards maintenance and keeping abreast of changes in ISL. A discussion was had about the changing profile of CDS students in terms of their background (now younger, less likely to have any contact with Deaf people / ISL, perhaps more likely to lose interest). CISLI should make a commitment to explore ways with SLIS, CDS and IDS to increase the presence and profile of interpreters in the Deaf community, in all its manifestations, as an essential component of skills and quality – a campaign possibly named “SHOW YOUR FACE!” – CPD credits could be earned for attending Deaf social / community event. Also, we could do ‘interpreter of the week’ type videos – every week new interpreter video distributed thru social media. Video – Name, where from, where they work, when qualified, if CODA, 1 interesting thing etc. Could be linked to member list on our website so Deaf people can see who we are.

Revalidation: a need for us to explore ways in which to regularly assess interpreters who have been out of training for a long time. No guarantee that interpreters will have the same skill levels 5 or 10 years after qualifying. Need to explore this as Deaf community have been calling for this for a long time. Attendance at CPD is great but very rarely any assessment component.

To see a copy of the Draft CISLI Strategy as of June 2018, click here.

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