Over the past year, COVID disruptions have provided extra challenges with staff, interpreters, and Deaf community members all unavailable for periods as the impact of the virus continued. We really appreciated that the Deaf community understood that just as supermarkets were out of stock of products due to COVID, iSign was also sometimes unable able to provide interpreters for the same reason. We have all learnt a great deal over the past three years and it’s pleasing that we have all approached these challenges with creative solutions and resilience. Deaf people’s feedback has been an important part of iSign changing the way we work.
This year although we have increased the number of bookings by 10% on the previous year, the number of hours of interpreting provided has reduced by 7%. This is a result of the reduction in the number of workshops, conferences, hui and other full day events. In recent months, as the restrictions on large gatherings have been relaxed, our bookings and interpreting hours have both increased.
The interpreting workforce is obviously a key part of iSign, and we continue to support interpreters’ wellbeing in several ways, as well as payment of their SLIANZ membership fees and funding training opportunities.
For new and developing interpreters we work with the Deaf community to provide observation and opportunities for mentoring and supervision from experienced interpreters. We have invested heavily in training and supporting interpreters from outside Wellington to interpret for the Prime Minister and other Ministers, and to take on media and other high-profile assignments around the country.
We have enjoyed supporting CODAs by providing interpreters for their social activities such as kayaking and other social events which bring the community together.
We have again been involved in many high-profile Government events and announcements and continue to provide access to the Prime Minister’s Post Cabinet press conference through Kordia television.
One of the more prominent events was the swearing in of the new Governor General Dame Cindy Kiro, this came with its own pomp and ceremony, and this was skilfully interpreted by two of our most experienced interpreters, Jenn Gilbert and Angela Murray.
More recently, it was an honour to provide interpreters for the Proclamation of King Charles III, with Melissa Simchowitz and Francesca Collins interpreting an incredibly significant and historic ceremony.
We have many projects planned for the coming year all tied to our Vision of Full Access for Deaf People, including how we can increase the interpreter workforce and increased advocacy for the Deaf community where their rights to an interpreter are impeded.
There are more challenging times ahead and iSign will continue to change with these times and pursue its purpose of providing full access.