Public Service Interpreting and Translating

19-21 March 2005, CTISS, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

The purpose of the conference was to explore Best Practice for practitioners seeking to deliver social inclusion and equality of access across the divides between languages and cultures – including professional cultures.

The conference was designed to be of interest to:

  • Policy-makers with an interest in social inclusion and equality of access for people from minority and ethnic backgrounds
  • People responsible for ensuring the effective delivery of services to multilingual/multi-cultural groups
  • People working in public service sectors: legal system and immigration, health care, local government (social work, housing, education, environmental health...), cross-cultural survey work, etc.
  • Organisations in the voluntary and not-for-profit sector offering support to minority language groups (including the Deaf Community)
  • Public Service Interpreters & Translators (practitioners, trainees and students)
  • British Sign Language/English Interpreters (practitioners, trainees and students)
  • Trainers of public service interpreters & translators
  • Researchers in the fields of interpreting, translating, linguistics, cross-cultural communication and anthropology.

Topics included:

  • The role and responsibilities of the Public Service Provider / Professional within the interpreted or translated interaction
  • Specific concerns from the perspective of the non-English speaking user
  • Professional practice & policy
  • Alternative and new modes of delivery e.g. telephone, video-conferencing, relay, co-working, simultaneous interpreting (in booths) in the public sector, etc.
  • Initial training, Continuous Professional Development and Resources
  • Empirical research in translation, interpreting and cross-cultural communication in the public sector

PSIT was the first such conference with an international focus ever to be held in the UK.

The keynote speakers were: Elish Angiolini, Solicitor General (Scotland); Erik Hertog, Lessius Uni. (Belgium); Lilian Lawson, Scottish Council on Deafness (Scotland); Ian Mason, Heriot-Watt Uni. (Scotland); and Cecilia Wadensjö, Linköping Uni. (Sweden).The programme included papers on a wide range of topics from people based in Europe and the USA, as well as in the UK, and the conference was attended by around 250 delegates from countries world-wide, as well as from Scotland and the rest of the UK. Delegates included language professionals (practitioners and researchers in both spoken languages and signed languages) and professionals in other fields (legal and judicial services, health and mental health, social services, education, local government, etc.), including policy makers; as well representatives of minority groups (the Deaf Community and other communities who prefer to use a language other than English or the majority language in their country) and the representative organisations working on their behalf.

A publication followed on from the conference:

De Pedro Ricoy, Raquel, Perez, Isabelle A. and Wilson, Christine W.L. (2009) Interpreting & Translating in Public Sector Settings: Policy, Practice, Pedagogy. Manchester: St Jerome Publishing.