ISO conference interpreting standards take shape

 | Interpreter insights

Calliope members are actively involved in the development of both national and international interpreting standards. Argentina now has a national umbrella standard, which has served as a basis for standards in other countries, including Brazil, and a suite of international interpreting standards will soon include a specialised standard on conference interpreting.

ISO standards meeting on conference interpreting

As announced in our 2016 article, industry associations such as AIIC have spent the past few years actively developing a new family of standards relating to interpretation together with country and industry experts gathered in ISO TC37/SC5/WG2 “Interpreting”. Argentina continues to play a leading role in these efforts, since it holds the Convenorship of WG2, with Calliope’s member for South America, Verónica Pérez Guarnieri serving as Convenor. She has recently been joined in the group by Haris Ghinos, Calliope’s member for Greece, as project leader for the forthcoming ISO standard on conference interpreting.

Argentina led the way …

In early 2018, Argentina adopted IRAM 13612, the first regional standard of its kind on interpretation. It includes clauses on working conditions, modes of interpretation and interpreter qualifications. Not only has this standard raised awareness of these issues among purchasers and users of interpreting services, but also all government agencies are now required to base their calls for tender on its provisions. The International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) and the Argentine Conference Interpreters’ Association (ADICA) are mentioned in the standard as examples of professional associations which can vouch for the quality of the services provided by interpreters.

… closely followed by ISO

Just a few days later, ISO published ISO 18841, its standard on Interpreting Services – General requirements and recommendations. This includes sections on interpreting protocols and codes of ethics, public procurement, competences and qualifications, as well as annexes on interpreters’ responsibilities, appropriate working conditions and vicarious trauma. The project leader was Verónica Pérez Guarnieri.

This was followed in early 2019 by the publication of a standard on legal interpretation, which sets out the conditions in which court interpreters perform their work and offers recommendations to users of legal interpreting services. The project leader was another AIIC member, Liese Katschinka.

Looking to the future

We are now looking forward to the prospect of having a new standard specifically on conference interpreting within the next two years. This time it is Haris Ghinos, Calliope’s member for Greece, who has been appointed project leader and is spearheading the development work. This widely anticipated standard will provide a definition of the profession, list the qualifications and competences required, and describe the interpreter’s tasks before and during an interpreting assignment. In addition, it will include a section on the organisational skills required of the consultant interpreter, as a conference interpreting service provider, and provisions on quality assurance. The standard will make it clear that a successful interpretation project requires (a) trained professional interpreters with (b) adequate preparation/knowledge of the assignment in question, as well as (c) a professional conference interpreting service provider (CISP) assuming responsibility for all organisational aspects, thus allowing conference interpreters to provide a top-quality service.  We await the publication of this conference interpreting standard with great anticipation.

Calliope-Interpreters is proud that such huge strides are being made towards defining standards for interpreting services, and firmly believes that the new standards will contribute to enhancing both the quality of the service provided to clients and market transparency, objectives which Calliope strives to achieve every day.

Calliope-Interpreters is a global network of consultant interpreters passionate about providing top-quality language solutions for their clients. Contact us to discuss your requirements.

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