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14. Perceptions of a profession

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Abstract

This research paper is meant as an exploratory empirical research project. The objective was to query a small sample of active community interpreters on a limited set of key dimensions concerning their own perception of the profession.Sixty anonymous self-report questionnaires were sent out via 12 interpreting agencies, generating nineteen responses.<br />Because of its exploratory nature, the questionnaire was mainly made up of openended questions. These were subsequently conceptualized through content analysis by post-categorization. Three main themes were explored: the perception of the professional image and role of community interpreters, their views on quality and their views on a professional code of conduct and, specifically, on impartiality.<br />The interpreters perceive themselves as having an important role in society and also as being perceived as such by others. But as yet that reality is not translated into due respect and appreciation, proper remuneration and legal recognition of the profession. Training of community interpreters, as well as of social workers, is seen as the most important and effective factor of a quality label for community interpreting, more so than the more formal elements of certification and registration. Formal education at Master’s level was deemed less important by our respondents. Supervision is seen as a valuable means of in-service training and general quality improvement.<br />The respondents who already had some form of (basic or introductory) training were convinced that above all training and external assessment are necessary for quality improvement.<br />The Flemish community interpreters seem to perceive of a professional code of conduct as mainly externally motivated: it is imposed and assessed by the interpreting agencies, through the evaluations of the other parties in the triad. On the specific topic of impartiality, a majority of respondents profess to a strict adherence to the professional code of conduct.

References

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