Thursday, December 12, 2013

Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) Press Release on qualifications and standards for professional sign language interpreters

For immediate release
Thursday, December 12, 2013
CHS calls for qualifications and standards for professional sign language interpreters
Toronto, ON (December 12, 2013) –  The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) calls for qualifications and standards for professional sign language interpreters for effective communication between Deaf and hearing communities in light of the current situation reported in South Africa of the hiring of an unqualified interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial.
“While we acknowledge there is a shortage of qualified interpreters in Canada, it is not acceptable for organizations to hire unqualified interpreters. Organizations should provide screened, trained professional interpreters in all interactions between Deaf and hearing people,” said Chris Kenopic, President and CEO, Canadian Hearing Society.
“It’s time to stop the practice of hiring unqualified interpreters,” Kenopic added. “It’s time for all public and private sector organizations to enforce standards and best practices for interpreting. It is important that interpreters have the appropriate credentials because we need to ensure all people have equal access to communication. Qualified interpreters provide that.”
CHS has for many years advocated for the provision of high quality interpreting services used in educational, community, medical and legal proceedings. When qualified interpreters are not available for assignments, Deaf and hard of hearing people experience unequal treatment that has potentially life-threatening or economic consequences.
“Using unqualified interpreters such as the one used at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service is disrespectful and an insult to the Deaf community,” said Gary Malkowski, Special Advisor to the President, Public Affairs, CHS. “Unfortunately, interpreters without credentials are being hired in Ontario. We are seeing more and more organizations hiring for lower costs which means they are often hiring unqualified interpreters.”
CHS recommends using professionally trained and screened sign language interpreters for communication in public proceedings or situations. Interpreters in Canada can be certified with AVLIC (Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Canada), have a Certificate of Interpretation or be registered with CHS’ Ontario Interpreting Service.
About the Canadian Hearing Society
The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) was incorporated in 1940 to provide services, products and information to culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing people and to educate the hearing public.  CHS is governed by a board of directors, the majority of whom are deaf, deafened, or hard of hearing.  The organization is funded by government, internal revenue generation including fundraising, and the United Way.  For more information or to find your regional office, visit
CHS issued a position paper addressing the issue. Read the CHS Position Paper on Challenges Affecting The Deaf and Interpreter Communities online
CHS Media Contact:
Marie-Lauren Gregoire
Phone:  416-928-2500 ext 272