30th Anniversary

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Anthony Mitchell

How does a BSL/English interpreter celebrate 30 years as a Register Qualified Interpreter here in the UK? Well I’m British so I’ll do it quietly… But seriously, I’ll be investing in the future of Interpreter Today.

This is an exciting opportunity to continue serving the Deaf community with access, communication and equality.

Home working during the CODIC-19 pandemic is not a new experience for most people; we’ve each had a taste of it! But, how do you Navigate the change which it brings?

For me, like many other businesses, I have found it necessary to adapted which has included remote working. After attempting to work unsatisfactory in almost every room in the house, I realised I needed somewhere else to work. Consequently, a new base became obvious but… where?

I began researching home/offices and garden rooms and was uninspired by the abundance of pedestrian and dull ‘boxes’ I could have installed in my garden, until… I discovered Hippo Lodges

Being able to separate work from home life is important; it helps me maintain a healthy work/life balance.

The Hut

Hippo Lodges are manufactured to an exceptionally high standard and clad in stunning Canadian Cedar. This pod really has made a handsome addition to my garden. Now I have a base to work from; helping me maintain sensible work/life boundaries.

Hippo Lodges have a wealth of experience in the creation of bespoke garden rooms. Their beautifully crafted pods come with a 5 year guarantee which gives me great peace of mind.

I selected the smallest of the available sizes and designs. They tailor made the internal space to my specifications and worked with me from start to finish to create the work space I desired.

“It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.”

Charles Darwin
…in the beginning

Where did 30 years go?

40 years ago Sign Language interpreters didn’t exist, as we know them today. This was an emerging profession; a paradigm shift.

Up until the late seventies Social Workers were the professionals who did most for Deaf/deaf people. And, before this, Missioners and the church were instrumental in Deaf peoples’ lives.

The formalisation of a national Register of interpreters was established in 1982; CACDP, funded jointly by BDA & DSS. Later to become Signature and NRCPD.

NRCPD have been regulating communication and language professionals since 2009. During these changes the emergence of professional membership organisations was necessary; ASLI, VLP and NUBSLI

The university of Edinburgh had, for many years, lead the way in British Sign Language research and other Universities followed; Bristol, Durham and Wolverhampton. Subsequent years witnessed these universities begin offering degrees, MAs and Phds’, higher education qualifications in linguistics and interpreting. Soon after which Interpreting agencies flooded the market-this changed the landscape of the profession significantly.

This 30th anniversary sees Interpreter Today adapting to industry changes again and, the purchase of a new home office; a lot has changed in 30 years!

“Interpreters are available to our communities, offering the chance for a successful communication opportunity. Access, communication and equality are at the heart of Interpreter Today.”

Anthony Mitchell, Director.

ACCESS – COMMUNICATION – EQUALITY

I began my professional life as a fund raiser with Breakthrough Trust, the organisation’s name has now changed to deafPLUS It was here I met and worked with Deaf people for the first time; although I had an interest in Sign Language before joining the charity.

Breakthrough Trust exposed me to the culture and language of Deaf peoples’ lives. The Director at that time was David Hyslop, instrumental in my decision to become an interpreter.

I learnt through the charity’s philosophy of integration, the idea that Deaf/deaf and hearing people can share each others worlds through communication. I was equality interested in an emerging Interpreting profession and I was keen to begin my studies.

“Everything you can imagine is real.” 

Pablo Picasso

After completing British Sign Language (BSL) levels I & II with Breakthrough Trust I went onto Bournville College, now South & City College Birmingham to study on a new course in 1986-The Communicator Course. The aim of this joint initiative with Birmingham Institute for the Deaf BID was to increase the number of ‘Communicators’; primarily in education but also serving as a launch pad for prospective interpreters.

Professional life

After graduation my first salaried interpreting job was with Northamptonshire County Council, Social Services department; the first local authority to employ a British Sign Language interpreter. Whilst working for the authority in the community; medical, education, employments and legal interpreting, I began my qualifying interpreter training.

London life!

Training firstly with CITISERVICES. Linda Richards set up the first ever BSL/English interpreter training course with seed funding from the GLC. I was among the very first 57 students.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Linda Richards who, encourage my desire to become an interpreter. She mentored my early career with noteworthy impact. This training lead the way in the development of an interpreting profession (conduit model) I then went on to study linguistics at the university of Bristol.

During my studies I moved to London from Northampton to pursue a dynamic career as an interpreter with Edith Norman (nee Duffy) at the RNID Edith’s influence on my attitude, abilities and understanding of being an interpreter was profound. I consider my time with Edith as an apprenticeship which moulded me into the proud interpreter I would later become.

After three years in the experienced hands of Edith I decided to become a freelance interpreter – I worked in London for 8 years all over the city; finding my feet as a newly qualified interpreter. Working in; health, community, legal, education, social, business, media and the Arts.

Spring of 2001 I accepted an employment contract with the BBC’s flagship programme for Deaf and hard of hearing people See Hear for a couple of years; having previously worked for the programme and BBC News as a freelancer.

I returned to freelance working in 2003 and have remained self employed ever since. This style of work suits me, I’m able to navigate the type of work I accept. Allowing me to develop on my weakness and build on my strengths.

SignLive team

Working remotely with SignLive has enabled me to continue growing as an interpreter whilst remaining available to my loyal customers. Providing me the opportunity to bring access, communication and equality into Deaf peoples private and professional lives.

The synchronicity of adapting to industry change, working with loyal customers and engaging new ones my 30th anniversary signifies a new beginning.

Anthony Mitchell (Interpreter/director)

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