Critical Link International is a gathering of interpreters from all over the globe.  At the opening session, there were four teams of interpreters working, going from English into Mandarin, Spanish, French and ASL.    The opening session was moderated by Helen Campbell with opening remarks from Linda Fitchett from the International Association of Conference Interpreters and then a panel discussion from 4 experienced conference interpreters.  Here are summary of the points made in the opening plenary.

International Association of Conference InterpretersThe Benefits of Organizing Internationally:  What Every Community Interpreter Should Know About

Lessons from International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) with Ms. Linda Fitchett

In this opening plenary, Linda Frichette talked about the work of International Association of Conference Interpreters to organize across national lines to promote the profession of conference interpreters.  Based primarily in Europe, the AIIC is a 60 year old organization.

Triple Mandate for AIIC

Strict Admission criteria for new members of the association relying on code of ethics and professional standards.

AIIC Values

AIIC Projects & Activities

EULITA – European Legal Interpreters & Translators Association grew out of AIIC.
AIIC has negotiated agreements for many international organizations, including the European Union, the United Nations, Council of Europe, NATO, OECD, and trade unions.  The agreements include pay, travel, social contributions and working conditions for all non-staff interpreters.  European Union utilizes approximately 400,000 interpreter days  a year.
AIIC also works with architects in the design of meeting spaces to provide effective locations for interpreters to work in different meetings.
Linda really focused on the importance of talking about quality interpretation as the main argument for the purpose of the organization. However, there is also the need to come together as the rise of technology can lead to “atomizing” the interpreter field.  That we may spend more time working in isolation – mediated through computers.  That in the face of that, we even more need professional organizations to bring us together. Organizations such as AIIC are needed to be a part of decisions that affect interpreters – whether it is the development of new technologies or the making of policy.
Reflection:  For me, I have not had much exposure to the practice of conference interpreting that focuses more on an international level.

Panel Discussion:  What lessons can community interpreters learn from conference interpreters?

Opening Plenary Panel
Panelists Isabella Quattrocchi, Ian Anderson, Gila Sperer, and Sergei Chernov