The fragmentation of our profession

I remember when I started learning sign language and wanted to train to become a qualified interpreter.  Everything seemed really simple! You followed a pre-determined training path: ASLI – one professional organisation, and one registration body – NRCPD.

One thing that has struck me over the past couple of years is the huge change within our profession.  I have used the word fragmentation in the title, as this is what I have felt.

Many organisations

With the establishment of organisations such as VLP, RBSLI and NUBSLI, it seems our very small profession is dividing into yet smaller groups. 

I understand that each group I mentioned has a different purpose.
This article is not here to comment on whether all of these organisations are necessary for our profession today.

It’s more to consider whether having this number of organisations for a very small profession is, in fact, diluting our message. And does it also dilute the campaign to continue improving the professional standards of interpreting and the service provision to our deaf community?


We are all working toward the same goals. So, could it be time for a more collaborative approach between these individual parties? It’s certainly something that could be beneficial across our industry, as the more voices you bring together, the more powerful a message.

We have less and less time as professionals. Maintaining a level of CPD and adhering to the additional things that we have to sign language interpreters means we need to communicate efficiently and effectively in our profession. And this is very hard to do if we also need to share our voice across multiple organisations.

And technology is an interesting one! In many ways, it brings us more opportunities and enables us to connect on a much higher level. But conversely, it also offers a level of disconnect because of the sheer volume of information we have access to; we simply cannot engage with everything.

There are positive areas of crossover and ‘best practice’ benefits. Sharing ideas from one organisation to another so all can benefit is a good thing. There has to be room for partnerships so that we are moving forward and not treading water.

In any case, I think it’s time to look at how we can work collaboratively and move the game forward to make a real impact. And really allow the services that we are providing to enhance the level of access for the deaf community.