GETTING OUR HANDS DIRTY:Social justice and the application of the ally model in spoken-language interpreting from a service-user perspective

In May, I was lucky to share part of my research at the 2021 conference of the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters (NZSTI). As you can probably tell by the video, I was excited to talk about the power differences at play in community interpreting and encouraged a critical analysis of the role of the interpreter to make society’s marginalisation and oppression dynamics visible.

The majority of the research on allyship in relation to interpreting exists within the field of signed languages, where power imbalances are more readily identified given that deafness is often understood as a disability. In the field of spoken-language interpreting, allyship has been overlooked and often condemned by researchers as problematic. The reason why I’m sharing this research is that interpreting is a social service. Because of this, I firmly believe that the voices of the culturally and linguistically diverse communities in need of these services must become key drivers of change in interpreting theory and practice. As interpreters, we must strive to meet the expectations of those who need our services the most.

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