In 1988 the members of the Western Australian State Advisory Panel for Translating and Interpreting (SAPTI WA), a committee comprising professional interpreters as well as users, employers and educators of interpreters, saw the need for a practical guide to working with interpreters. Volunteers were summoned, and the project 'to produce a brochure' got under way.
Initially the focus was on legal interpreting and it was later broadened to include the areas of health services and social work. The selection reflects the view of the SAPTI W A regarding the areas of greatest and most immediate need. This approach should not detract, however, from an appreciation of just how widespread the need for professional interpretation is in other areas such as trade, industry, tourism and international conferences of all kinds.
Some of the topics included here have been given less space than they deserve: specialist areas such as mental health, to name but one, will need to be dealt with in much greater depth than we have been able to do, at least this time around. NAATI looks forward to constructive comments and criticisms from professionals with special expertise in those areas.
Much thought went into the issue of interpreting in Aboriginal languages, and we have tried to obtain material on interpreting in these languages, but unfortunately that did not prove possible. SAPTI WA does see this as being a particularly important area for future attention.
This book is intended to be only the first volume in a series called "Working With Interpreters" which will cover not only interpreting issues in other areas but which will also give each specialist topic the space it requires.