I find it very telling that posts about the “problems” in interpreting get a lot of comments but a post asking for solutions doesn’t have a lot of people throwing in their two cents!!
The problems like the one facing the UK court are very complex and not as one-sided as they may seem. It is easy to make ALS an example but the reality is that the UK court wanted to revamp their system, it was too expensive, and changes were coming down the pike anyway. Did ALS act appropriately? Absolutely not. There is no excuse for sending unqualified interpreters into court.
Nevertheless, change must come. I spoke last week with a man who oversees all of the hospitals in the Greater Cincinnati area. He told me that the current interpreter services system could not continue on. The amount of language services needed every year is increasing as the number of non-English speakers requiring services is increasing exponentially every year. He told me that the current system would eventually bring down the entire hospital if allowed to continue in this direction. I look at the numbers for myself and see that he is telling the truth.
Again, I ask, “How does an agency like mine act responsibly in this current climate?” The court administrators and hospital administrators are simply trying to do their jobs responsibly and keep costs down. I do not believe that anyone wants a mess like there is right now in the UK. We need some creative solutions and a new way of looking at language services. If agencies like mine do not lead the way then the courts and hospitals are going to do it for us and it won’t be pleasant. There will be fights but, eventually, the larger organizations will win and the interpreters and translators will lose. We MUST lead the change, responsible change.