Standards, Certification and Education – how it all connects

Why do we teach what we teach? Who decides what courses and skills interpreters must have? It all starts with professional standards.

This year, Canada will host the most important ISO* language standards event, the ISO TC 37 International Meetings. From June 23 to June 28, in Ottawa, the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) and AILIA (the Canadian Language Industry Association) and co-host, the University of Ottawa, will welcome language experts from over 60 countries. Canada has participated in the international terminology standardization activities of ISO/TC 37 (Translation, Interpreting and related technology) since 1975.

In 2010, I joined the International Standards Organization (ISO) Committee on Translation, interpreting and related technology as an expert member. For those of you who are unfamiliar with ISO, let me just tell you that ISO has published almost 23,000 standards covering almost every industry, from technology, to food safety, to agriculture and healthcare – AND interpreting and translation. ISO standards have been developed for Legal Interpreting, Community Interpreting, and General Guidelines for Interpreting. And there are more in development.

Standards are a critical component of any profession. Standards provide guidelines about the work, the working conditions, the educational content, continued professional development, AND a base for certification exams. Without standards, there would be no profession. Standards are the glue that hold all of the parts together. 

As a member of the ISO TC 37/SC5 Translation, interpreting and related technology Committee, I have actively participated in the national and international meetings that have produced our industry-related standards. It has been, and continues to be, an honour to work alongside dedicated colleagues from across Canada and the globe. And I am excited to be a member of the committee that is welcoming all of the global experts to Canada to continue our work.

The commitment that I make as an ISO expert is a privilege that not only enriches me as a professional but also allows me to create interpreter education programs that are informed by the best thinking in our field, the best practices and the best content. I, along with our other talented instructors at The Interpreter’s Lab, care about the education we provide our students. We want to not only educate; we want to inspire. As one of the fastest growing professions, globally, interpreting has a world of wonders to offer you. Join us and let us spark a new passion in you.

*ISO TC37 serves all fields and applications, where human-to-human and human-to-machine communication are involved and refers in particular to the language industry products, such as language technology tools and content resources, and language services. The standards this committee produces are fundamental for language resource management, knowledge management, and content management.

Available for purchase from ISO:

  1. ISO 20228 : Interpreting services — Legal interpreting — Requirements  
  2. ISO 18841:2018 Interpreting services — General requirements and recommendations
  3. ISO 13611:2014 Interpreting — Guidelines for community interpreting
  4. ISO/CD 21998 Medical/healthcare interpreting [Under development]
  5. ISO/DIS 20539 Translation, interpreting and related technology — Vocabulary [Under development]
  6. ISO 20228 Interpreting services — Legal interpreting — Requirements [In publishing process]
  7. ISO/NP 23155 Interpreting services — Conference interpreting — Requirements and recommendations [Under development]