“ALS’s ‘misleading’ signs” – Sarah Heaps

Your Letters – December 2011

ALS’s ‘misleading’ signs

We read with interest Anne Wollenberg’s piece (“Signs of better access in court”, Disability Now, November 2011) about the recent outsourcing of interpreting and translation services to one supplier, ALS, by the Ministry of Justice.

In this piece, Ms Wollenberg quoted Anthony Walker of ALS on purported discrepancies in assessment standards between spoken language interpreters and BSL practitioners. While we support our deaf and deaf-blind interpreter colleagues, we feel we must respond to these.

Spoken language interpreters are most commonly assessed as fit to practise by the Chartered Institute of Linguists’ associated charity, IoL Educational Trust, through an examin-ation called the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI). The DPSI is a professional qualification that has been developed and tested since the Institute recognised the need for regulated public service interpreters in the UK in 1983.

The qualification is robust and rigorous and tests an interpreter’s ability to operate to the highest standards of professional practice. It is accredited by Ofqual and entered on the Qualifications Credit Framework (QCF) at Level 6, the same level as the Signature Level 6 NVQ Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting, the qualification certifying fitness to practise for those who want to become a British Sign Language/ English Interpreter.

For Mr Walker to state that BSL practitioners have “faced and met far higher standards of assessment and scrutiny of their skills than those working with foreign languages” is therefore not only misleading but false.

Sarah Heaps, Marketing, Communications and PR Manager Chartered Institute of Linguists


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