A STUDY OF QUALIFICATION PROCESSES AND COMPETENCIES OF SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETERS IN AFRICAN CONTEXT ( INDUSTRIAL RELATION AND PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT PROJECT TOPICS AND MATERIALS)
The study followed the principles of development cooperation to reach the aim of surveying the qualification processes and competencies of Sign Language interpreters in Eastern and Southern African countries. The initial idea for the thesis came from Ethiopia, where there is currently no interpreter training programme available. The data gathered in this thesis will contribute to establishing a training programme to countries that do not have one and to provide a general image of the current situation.
The data was gathered through two methods; participatory observation and semi-structured interview conducted via email. The sample of the study consisted of 19 countries located in the aforementioned region. Answers to the interview questionnaire were received from seven countries altogether. The data was analysed using thematic analysis in order to draw generalizations for beneficiaries to use.
Out of the seven respondents three had well established training programmes, two had training programmes of insufficient quality and two did not have training programmes of any kind. Only one country had a qualification process separate from training programme graduating process. All countries had members of the clientele involved in the programmes or in the processes of establishing programmes. The significance of foreign aid or collaboration was found to be insignificant.
In my thesis I studied the current protocols for Sign Language interpreter qualification as well as the required competencies for graduating interpreters in Southern and Eastern African countries.
I had been interested in development cooperation prior to my education, so when I was offered a chance to study abroad, I took it and wanted to take the best out of it. I managed to book a place for internship in Ethiopia in an organization working in development cooperation. I did spend my three month exchange study period in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia working as an intern in Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development (ECDD) in a project called Capacity building for inclusive higher education and empowerment of students of disabilities. One of the objectives of the project is to get more Sign Language interpreters for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing university students. According to the students themselves the lack of interpreters is the biggest hindrance in their studying conditions. I got to see in reality how the lack in quantity and the insufficient quality of interpreters affect the students’ lives.
To further contribute to the cause I wanted to make a survey of the current state of Sign Language interpreter provision and qualification. My thesis intends to follow the principles of sustainability in development cooperation. I sent inquiries to different organizations for getting a suggestion for a topic of my thesis. With the initial idea coming from the target country the paper would most likely provide useful and important data for the beneficiaries. I got a suggestion of making a survey of Sign Language interpreter code of conduct in those countries where there is established Sign Language interpreter training from a postgraduate faculty member Eyasu Haile Tamene of Addis Ababa University Department of Ethiopian Sign Language and Deaf Culture. They suggested that I would study the rules and regulations guiding working as a Sign Language interpreters in the countries I saw fit. The topic later gelled into studying the principles of interpreter qualification and the required competencies in the Southern and Eastern African countries surrounding Ethiopia.