To provide a national forum for the interpreting profession.
InterpretAmerica owes its beginnings in large measure to José Luis "JL" Villanueva-Senchuk and Lucille Barnes, conference interpreters from Argentina. They saw the need to raise the profile of interpreters in all sectors and organized the first-ever conference in Argentina covering the entire profession. Interpreta2007, held in Buenos Aires in July of 2007, convened a distinguished group of international experts from conference, legal, medical and academic sectors. Barry S. Olsen spoke at the conference and came away with a similar vision for interpreting in North America and the seeds for InterpretAmerica were sown.
Barry Slaughter Olsen and Katharine Allen together have almost a half century of experience in the interpreting and translation fields as practitioners, trainers, educators, consultants and advocates. They are deeply committed to further developing the interpreting profession, and are very active in their respective professional associations in the conference, medical and community interpreting sectors.
Over the years, they have gained insight into the broader field of interpreting and saw the increasing need for a forum that goes beyond sector-specific associations and events, one which provides a space for members of all interpreting sectors to come together to take stock of the profession as a whole. Each sector is pushing the profession forward in unique and important ways, whether it be the development of video and telephonic interpreting technology in medical interpreting, a full-scale certification structure in signed language interpreting, federal and state-level testing available in legal interpreting, or the advance curriculum and degree programs available in conference interpreting. Yet all too often, the benefits, and sometimes disadvantages, of these innovations go unperceived by other sectors, which often start their own parallel efforts from scratch.
Two years ago, Barry and Katharine formed a partnership to explore the possibility of providing just such a forum. Our goal is simple: gather experts and leaders from every sector of the interpreting field together through a variety of forums, provide up-to-date and relevant information about the entire profession, and help facilitate the resulting conversation.
The 1st North American Summit on Interpreting, held June 17th, 2010 in Washington, DC, was our inaugural project. Planning is now well underway for the 2nd North American Summit on Interpreting, Quality Interpreting in Push-Button World: How Professional Identity & Technology are Driving the Future of Our Field. The conference will take place June 17 and 18, 2011 in Washington, DC. (For more information, click here.)
We believe that when professionals from the community, conference, legal, medical, military and signed language branches of our field meet and see what others are doing, it sparks positive change for interpreting as a whole.