Although there is an International Sign Language, known as Gestuno, it is not commonly known within the deaf community, and is used only at international Deaf events and meetings. In reality, hundreds of different sign languages are in use around the world. But not only are there different sign languages from one country to another, but there are even different dialects within the same country or linguistic community. For example, American Sign Language (ASL) differs notably from British Sign Language (BSL) – to a greater extent than both languages differ at speaking level.
The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) estimates that there are between 50,000 and 70,000 people in the UK who use sign language.
Taking the above figures into account, the role of sign language interpretation becomes essential. Yet the development of sign language interpretation has only taken place relatively recently. In the sixteenth and seventeenth century, sign interpretation was not a recognised professional practice. Interpreters received no compensation for their work, and normally the children or relatives of deaf people were the ones who fulfilled the role of interpreter.
Sign language interpretation emerged as a response to the social demand made by deaf or hard of hearing people: the need to break communication barriers that isolate them from society, and the right to participate in it on equal terms.
It took a long time for sign language interpretation to be to be recognised and treated as a profession, and for legal dispositions concerning sign language to be set up by Governments, different Associations to be formed, specific courses to be made available for people who aim to work as a sign language interpreter, etc.
Nowadays, a professional sign language interpreter is required to [...]