NASLIG aims to improve upon interpreter practice in Ghana. As part of this quest, the Interpreter Trainers, Ghana (ITG) collaborated with NASLIG to conduct a professional development training for Sign Language Interpreters (SLIs) in the Volta and Oti regions. The event was held on 10th June 2023 at the Volta Regional capital Ho. The capacity building training was specifically designed to share professional approaches and strategies to refine knowledge among SLIs and organizations who work with interpreters in the 2 regions.
Three main themes were developed and discussed during the event which included the role of the interpreter, respect for the code of ethics and basic linguistic features of Signed Exact English (SEE) and Ghanaian Sign Language (GhSL).
Mrs. Gloria Akumia, the National Organizer of NASLIG, who also doubles up as a Volta Regional Coordinating Member of NASLIG, highlighted the major role of SLIs, i.e. to focus on facilitating communication between the Deaf and non-deaf communities while utilizing linguistic and cultural competencies. Dzeani Okai Phinehas, the National Executive Secretary of NASLIG and the Projects and Training Coordinator of ITG drew participants attention to the linguistic features of SEE and GhSL. He refuted the claim of some interpreters that SEE is not an acceptable Sign Language form to use while interpreting. He however pointed out that there are situations, settings and contexts where SEE may have to be employed. For instance, while interpreting in some academic, health or legal settings, there is the need to adopt the use of SEE other that GhSL. Mr. Foster Elikem, the Chairman for the Volta Regional NASLIG Coordinating Committee and Mr. Emmanuel Kudzo Nanyo, also a member of the committee, called upon the interpreters to make sure that they are always mindful of the code of ethics that guide their work. He laid emphasis in the need for interpreters to ensure confidentiality, where they should avoid discussing or disclosing interpreted information to persons who were not part of the interpreting setting and thus do not have rights to have access to such information. He stressed that both Deaf and non-Deaf consumers would only trust interpreters if interpreters work with a high sense of confidentiality.
A special guest who attended and helped the event to be very successful was Madam Stella Mawusi Mawutor, the Volta Regional Director of the Social Welfare. Madam Stella encouraged interpreters to build relationships and collaborations instead of trying to work in isolation. She also emphasized that interpreters need to open their minds always, to learn new ways of doing things including interpreting. She finally called on interpreters, recruiters of SLIs and organizations to avoid marginalizing and excluding Deaf persons from community services because Deaf persons are part of society- they make society whole and functional. She was very much appreciative of the arrangement to offer such training for the interpreters within the region and called on the National Executive of NASLIG to make sure such capacity building events continue and not remain a single activity.
The participants expressed profound joy and excitement for the event. Interpreters had many questions relating to their work. For instance, one interpreter wanted to know whether linguistic knowhow of Sign Language alone could make a person an interpreter. A few who had heard of the use of Demand-Control Schema (DCS) by interpreters were curious to know more about it. They called on the National Executive to continue with more of such capacity building events.
Members of the Volta Regional Coordinating Committee (VRCC), donated to organize the event. They provided meals for participants through their donations. It is the hope of NASLIG, the VRCC and ITG that individuals, groups or organizations who are willing would reach out to donate funds to support future professional development programs as this so that Sign Language Interpreters in Ghana can become professionals who can work to meet global standards.