On Saturday, July 6 2013, Verónica Pérez Guarnieri and Vivien Pérez Moran gave a presentation at CAS (Confederación Argentina de Sordos). CAS approached aiic through Laura Astrada, who I am sure you all remember, was the SL interpreter at the opening ceremony of the Buenos Aires Assembly. They are currently teaching a course on SL interpretation and were interested in our input on the quality of interpretation and a briefing in general.
Verónica spoke on behalf of VEGA and aiic in general, and Vivien spoke on behalf of the SLN.
At CAS, Vivien explained what the SLN was, when it had been created, the historical moment at the BA Assembly when SLs were included as any other conference language, the special progress made in North America, the European reality (so different to Argentina and Latin America in general).
A special note was made of the aiic working conditions and how it is important for all members to abide by them, and then the requirements to join aiic were explained. To finished her presentation Vivien introduced Holly Maniatty and showed one of her videos on You Tube. Everybody LOVED IT!
The CAS authorities and Laura Astrada were invited to the cocktail aiic was hosting the following Friday to celebrate the association´s anniversary.
This was a first step towards networking with SL interpreters in Argentina and taking them on board provided they meet aiic requirements and standards and provided they wish to join aiic.
The meeting was a very interactive. The original presentation scheduled for 40 minutes approx. (in practice it is always less because one forgets things as you go along lasted 1 ½ hour approximately! Participants asked lots of questions ; they were eager to find out about aiic, how the language pairs worked, etc. Photos were a great help because empty words turned into real people, as did the video of Kosa Adam (the deaf EU MP) with his 2 SL interpreters at the European Parliament (link is in the power point slide), which was very important too because that is also “the real thing” and a very clear example.
There were approximately 20 people present. Laura Astrada interpreted Verónica and Vivien (the other interpreter did not show up at the last moment!) and all the audience interpreted the questions and answers naturally, taking it in turns.
They were very insistent on training and on how could aiic stand up for SL interpreter rights.
Vivien explained that the SLN is not into training but Verónica added that she would look into it through VEGA, as the VEGA group targets young interpreters.
Participants were also very insistent on the need for aiic or the SLN to partner with CAS. Vivien explained aiic became an EFSLI associate member in 2010.
SLs’ input was really valuable. We learnt how light is to SL interpreters what sound is to us. And it is not simply a matter of how SL interpreters must be visible, it´s more than that. They need proper light to see and be seen (just as we need proper sound to hear and be heard).
Most of SLIs’ work is at schools and community interpreting, which means some of these interpreters would perhaps not qualify to join aiic. Gradually, however, society is opening up and acknowledging the need for SL interpreters at least in official settings (Parliament, for instance). As this evolves, there shall be more and more opportunities and needs for them. When this becomes massive, these interpreters will surely qualify to join aiic.
The most important lesson we learnt on Saturday is that deafness is a disability and sign language is the means to overcome it, thus facilitating culture.