Interpreters and Human Rights.
That was the theme chosen by the Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Canada (AVLIC) for its recent conference in Winnipeg, Canada held July 8th through 12th, 2014.
Bonnie Heath, past President of Critical Link, co-chaired the conference. Heath says the clear message coming out of the gathering is that language rights are human rights:
“They are inextricably linked, you can’t separate them,” she said. “Our role as interpreters facilitates these human rights protections. We are allies not just for non-English speakers but also, and equally importantly, for the public servants who work with these clients. The lawyers, doctors, nurses and others in the public sector rely on us to be ethical and professional in our work so that they can succeed in theirs.”
35 speakers from Canada and around the world spoke at the conference, with over 250 delegates in attendance.
“What was especially heartening is that while we were holding our conference and talking about human rights, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights was getting ready to open a few streets away.” Heath noted. “It reinforced for all of us that people all over the world benefit by having interpreters. As allies we facilitate communication. It is strongly felt that the ability to communicate is a fundamental human right.”
Keynote speaker Colin Allen elaborated on the human rights theme. Allen noted that collaboration between interpreters and Deaf people assists in the empowerment of Deaf people, particularly in the developing world, where many Deaf children and adults are denied access to basic rights such as education.
Critical Link board member Christopher Stone also spoke at the conference and local artists from the Deaf community were invited to exhibit their artwork. Visit the AVLIC 2014 website for more information.