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ASTM Sets Standard for Language Interpretation Services

A new guide describing a basic standard for quality language-interpretation services has been completed by members of ASTM Subcommittee F15.34 on Language Interpreting, part of Committee F15 on Consumer Products. Developed with trans-national input, the comprehensive 42-page document, F 2089, Standard Guide for Language Interpretation Services, was approved by the Society on March 10.

Subcommittee member David Burton Sawyer, Dipl.-Dolm., Dipl.-Übers, is an assistant professor and German Program head, Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation, Monterey Institute of International Studies, Calif., which offers degree programs in translation and interpretation, international policy studies, and more. Sawyer said the new guide will provide:

• A single reference with comprehensive information for all types of language interpreting: conference, health-care, legal, and community;
• One of the first standards on language interpreting; and
• Codification of information on the process of procuring language and interpretation services.

“By following this guide,” he averred, “end-users of interpretation services will be better able to procure high-quality language services.”

Subcommittee F15.34 is chaired by Dr. Jon Strolle, professor, Graduate School of Languages and Educational Linguistics, Monterey Institute of International Studies, and co-chaired by Susan Gryder of Berlitz International. According to Sawyer, the guide was created by interpreters from all areas of the language industry, including:

• Conference, legal, health-care, and community for both spoken and signed languages;
• End-users of interpretation services (public and private sectors, i.e., corporate and government agencies and institutions);
• Educators; and
• Commercial providers of interpretation services.

The group of approximately 30 voting members also included members of the International Association of Conference Interpreters and the American Translators Association.

As stated in its scope, the guide “identifies the components of quality language interpretation services and establishes criteria for each component. These criteria define the minimum standard of quality services in the language interpretation industry with reference to distinctive characteristics of specific settings. The needs analysis identifies a procedure for making an informed choice of interpretation services. In the language industry, translation refers to the translation of a written text, whereas interpretation refers to the translation of spoken or signed communication.”

For technical information, contact David Burton Sawyer, Dipl.-Dolm., Dipl.-Übers, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation, Monterey Institute of International Studies, Monterey, Calif. (phone: 831/647-4191). For Committee F15 meeting or membership details, contact Director Kathie Morgan, ASTM (phone: 610/ 832-9721). //

Copyright 2001, ASTM