Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Welcome to the InterpretAmerica Blog

A Blog for the Interpreting Profession
Almost two months have passed since the 1st North American Summit on Interpreting took place in Washington, D.C.  With a successful first summit now in the rearview mirror, we have been taking a long, hard look at the road ahead.

Interpreting in North America is, in many ways, an upside down profession: we have developed our specialty branches before defining the general activity of interpreting itself. We become medical, legal, community, sign language, military, educational and conference interpreters following isolated tracks that have no formal agreement on what the basic skills are that define the heart of what we actually do. We are like a bicycle wheel that is all spokes with no tire, or an umbrella with no fabric to give it form and shape. At the Summit, those separate branches of interpreting began talking to one another, and more importantly, learning from one another. As the old Spanish adage goes…hablando se entiende la gente (roughly translated, people understand each other by talking).

As we stated from the outset, InterpretAmerica's mission is to provide a forum for the interpreting profession. Through conferences, discussion groups, our website, and other activities, we are working to bring together the community, conference, legal, medical, military, and signed language interpreting sectors, as well as educators, buyers and vendors in the interpreting field. InterpretAmerica seeks to elevate the profile and reach of the interpreting industry to the benefit of all.

At the 1st North American Summit on Interpreting these diverse stakeholders came together for the very first time to take stock of our profession and consider crucial next steps. Integral to this event was The Interpreting Marketplace Survey. InterpretAmerica commissioned Common Sense Advisory to conduct the first-ever comprehensive survey on the interpreting market in North America (U.S., Canada and Mexico). Close to 1500 interpreters and interpreting service vendors and buyers participating, making it the largest survey of its kind. Given the seminal nature of the survey and its results, InterpretAmerica decided to make it available free of charge on our website: (, because in order to chart a course for future development, first we must know where we stand as a profession and industry.

The success of the first Summit was a clear indication that there is widespread interest in more coherence and integration in our field. Building on that momentum, planning is already well underway for the 2nd North American Summit on Interpreting (link), as well as planned web-based forums for interpreting association leaders and upgrades to our website resources. 

In the coming months, we will be covering all of these developments, as well as providing a meeting place for all of us to discuss the larger issues that affect all of us in the interpreting profession, regardless of what sector or stakeholder group we belong to.

Welcome to the InterpretAmerica Blog! We invite your participation, your comments and look forward to what we can achieve together through our shared wisdom.

Barry Slaughter Olsen and Katharine Allen