VLP2021

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this years Visual Language Professionals conference happened online. This excellent, virtual experience is down to the hard work of the members involved – they made it happen! Creating an engaging and informative experience.

The VLP conference began with our Chair, Peter Salkeld outlining the importance of ‘promoting high standards through support, collaboration and representation‘. Equally important is for our members to get involved whether as a volunteer, a director or project member.

Committee members and volunteers have worked tirelessly to improve and further develop the VLP App, the re-branding of our membership organisation and establish a new website. All of which allows members to access essential resources, remain in touch and volunteer as and when they can.

There was also a tribute to our co-founding member, Alan Haythornthwaite from his wife, Carol Haythornthwaite and co-founding member Van Holtom. They outlined Alan’s significant contribution, not only to VLP but his wider impact on the Deaf community and our developing interpreter profession.


Keynote speakers


Dr. Sally Austen

Sally spoke about cognition and the relevance of it in terms of intelligence, knowledge, language, insight, Theory of Mind and emotional experience.

An understanding of cognition is vital to both the work and the well being of Language Service Professionals (LSP).

This presentation enabled LSPs to judge what is realistic in their expectations and evaluation of the work – and in doing so protect themselves from trauma, anxiety or burn out.

Dr. Jules Dickinson

Jules raised questions:

  • Do you ever have doubts about your skills and ability?
  • Feel that your professional competency is hampered by a lack of confidence?
  • Does a belief that you are not ‘good enough’ prevent you from reaching your full potential?

In her presentation she discussed the powerful emotion of shame, which is where our internal script of inadequacy originates from. Jules looked at what shame is, and how it can damage and limit our relationships with deaf and hearing clients, as well as with our colleagues.

She suggested strategies for building resilience to shame, with a focus on empathy, compassion and self-compassion. In order to be confident, assured and resilient practitioners we need to change our thinking – this presentation gave some insights in to how to start that journey.


Session leaders


Dr. Sally Gillespie

Communication professionals vs COVID019 You don’t know what you don’t know, but we knew there was a lot we didn’t know! With great foresight, while staring into a vacuum of information, VLP commissioned the VLP Impact Study to find out what we needed to know- now is our chance to look back and find out what we learnt! Travel back in time with Sally to a time where ‘R-rates’ and ’social distancing’ were alien concepts and journey through 6-months of the last year to see how the virus impacted our profession and how we responded to the changes it enforced.

Stephen Ellis-Menton

Continuing Professional Development Plan. This session equipped us with all we needed to know about CPD requirements and provided us with some tools to make the most of our CPD.

Effective Continuing Professional Development (CPD) needs planning to ensure that our development needs are being met. If you are aware of what you need to do, in order to improve your practice, great but how will you make your plans come to fruition?

What is it that you need to start focusing on improving? What areas of your practice do you need to pay more attention to? Which courses or activities should you do to not only gain enough points for revalidation with NRCPD but also improve your practice?​

CPD should be about quality rather than quantity and to this end we need tools to help us make the most out of our CPD and to also ensure that we can satisfy any inspection requests from NRCPD. (or other regulatory body!)​

Bruce Cameron

Technology savy! Bruce introduced delegates to both the basics and advanced knowledge when it comes to working remotely. He examined the myths and clarified some doubts when it comes to working online. He particularly focused on software; Zoom and MSTeams but also made suggestions to improve interpreters environmental conditions when working from home.

Owning the correct tech makes all the difference to working practice. Interpreters can work more effectively and comfortably for example when they use the correct sized screen as well as sitting on a comfortable chair. Not to mention the need to be able to see and hear clearly the participants in any given assignment.

Linzi Weatherson

Social Media. Linzi made this potentially dry subject come alive. She clearly spelt out how to put into practice and effectively use social media to maximise its potential. She shared ideas about how to make content engaging enough for people to pay attention.

Learning a great deal about how Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can help interpreters thrive as Language Service Professionals (LSP), whilst remaining safe online.

Audrey Simmons

Interpreters of Colour Network. This session looked at why the Interpreters of Colour Network IOCN was set-up and Audrey, as a board member, outlined some of the vision of how we can support IOCN members and why this is important to our wider Deaf community.

IOCN are a vibrant international organisation with members from all over Europe. They are a large and diverse group of people, both deaf and hearing, who have come together in the fight against the systemic racism that pervades the signed language interpreting and translation profession.

Audrey outlined why the organisation exists. She explained it is necessary to address the underrepresentation of ‘people of colour’ in the signed language interpreting and translation profession, and to offer a safe, nurturing and supportive environment for our colleagues of colour.

Ali Hetherington

Supervision. Ali described how supervision is a confidential, safe place for professionals to reflect on decisions made at work, explore working relationships with clients and colleagues, discuss dilemmas and consider the emotional impacts of interpreting.

She explained how supervision can be utilised by LSP to both take care of themselves and others. Interpreting during the pandemic has brought new challenges and supervision can also support you to develop strategies to preserve your well-being and adapt to the current changes.

By the end of this presentation members had a clearer idea of what supervision is and how it can benefit the profession and individual practice. Ali also gave practical guidance on what to look for in a supervisor and how to find a supervisor that is right for you.

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