Quality assurance in international sign conference interpreting at international organisations


  • Maya de Wit Radboud University, the Netherlands
  • Onno Crasborn Radboud University, the Netherlands
  • Jemina Napier Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh


Quality assurance, conference interpreting, International Sign, interpreter education.


Quality assurance (QA) in conference interpreting is considered essential among international organisations and interpreting practitioners (Pöchhacker, 1994). The need for QA resulted in the establishment of the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) and the development of university degree programmes in conference interpreting in spoken languages worldwide (Seeber, 2021). International organisations such as the United Nations and the European Union (EU) work closely with universities worldwide to ensure that interpreters are trained and assessed in line with their requirements. Sign language conference interpreters working with International Sign (IS) do not have equivalent opportunities to be trained and assessed as their spoken language colleagues, with whom they work for international organisations. Therefore, to assure that those who deliver IS conference interpretation services are up to quality standards, the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI) established an accreditation system for IS interpreters in 2015. As of June 2021, thirty IS interpreters had obtained the corresponding accreditation. In this article we examine the 2021 QA system for IS conference interpreters and present findings from our 2019 global survey of the perspectives of IS conference interpreters (de Wit et al., 2021) in combination with a follow-up study on practitioners’ training and accreditation needs. The results indicate that there is a demand for formal professional training programmes that focus on interpreting IS in conference settings and a need to enhance the current accreditation system.