Lessons Learned From Attending Industry Conference | Blog

Lessons Learned From Attending Industry Conference

We were fortunate to attend the FIT Congress (Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs / International Federation of Translators) in Brisbane, Australia, held between Aug. 3rd and 5th at Brisbane Exhibition & Convention Centre. In fact, three of us at Translationz, myself, Karen, along with Lorraine and Katarina from the office, made it out to the conference and it was well worth our time away from the office.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Disruption and Diversification.” This is right on the mark, as in our view, the translation and interpreting industry is one currently undergoing a period of massive change and disruption. And this is a good thing!

It is an exciting time to be in the language service industry and an ideal time to embrace technological advancements which will benefit it. There are so many innovations which need to be embraced. These will continue to emerge and lead to many interesting new developments in this industry.

Here are some of the topics presented:

  • Future Shock - Technology, Disruption and the New Industry Paradigm
  • Sign Language Interpreting/ digital infrastructure for interpreting
  • Language and Conflict – working in danger zones
  • Community Interpreting and Translation, certification and standards
  • Indigenous, rare, emerging and endangered languages
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: A Diachronic Analysis of Machine Translation Between French and English
  • How to Make a Living in the Age of MT ‐ Generating Adequate Income for Freelance Translators
  • Remote Interpretation ‐ An Unprecedented Disruption to the Interpretation Industry
  • A Critical Examination of Big Data‐Driven Cloud‐ Based Translation: From the Internet to Language to China’s Mega Initiatives
  • New Opportunity for Which Translators Are Best Prepared: Language Services Advisement

The event began with a speech by the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Graham Quirk. His upbeat message set the tone for the entire event. 

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk

Here is a photo of Karen with the Mayor

The first morning session focused on both sign language and aboriginal language. Both these genres are sometimes overlooked in our industry. It is good to have these highlighted because of the incredible importance that that quality Ausland interpreters and the much-needed interpreters in Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders have.

The next presentation we’d like to highlight is the one given by Anthony Pimm. 

He spoke about translators, and explained that they don’t just translate; they do many other things. As he put it. “They always have and they always will, because of the nature of their work.” He talked about his current work with students and touched on his teaching methods. Based on the care, rigorous training and high expectations of his students, we look forward to more quality translation and interpreting professionals entering our industry.

We attended many other presentations, but space here is limited. Our purpose for attending these presentations was to keep abreast of the current technology available for our use, to hear from leaders in our industry and learn best practices so as to better serve our clients.

Another impressive presentation was given by the Hon. Justice, Melissa Perry, the chair of the Federal Court of Australia, the Hon. Justice, Jenny Blokland, Professor Sandra Hale, Professor of Interpreting and Translation at UNSW Australia, The Hon. Justice François Kunc, of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and The Hon.. Dean Mildren AM

They worked together for over 12 months, on a pro bono basis, writing the Recommended National Standards for Working with Interpreters in Courts and Tribunals document.


It was encouraging to hear the speakers validate the importance of interpreters in the courts. We also were gratified to hear that the work of interpreters is essential to ensuring access to justice and procedural fairness for people with limited, or no, English proficiency in Australia’s courts. The great care and due diligence involved in crafting the report was evident and in our opinion, it was extremely necessary.

We believe that the National Standard on working with interpreters in courts and tribunals is essential. It is a milestone in defining the role of interpreters in legal settings. Interpreters are now to be viewed as an officer of the court, which means that they must be impartial. Also with the new NAATI certification and specialisation, quality interpretation should be assured.

Among many other things we learned are the following:

  • Collaborative Translation/Localisation is becoming more and more important
  • Consistent use of terminology in source texts is crucial
  • Computer Aided Translation or CAT tools play a key role in this as it allows for projects to be assigned to different translators at the same time
  • Audience matters- Translators not only translate but edit, rewrite, adapt content to a specific locale or market

To our delight, interpreting services was a hot topic at the conference. Translationz’ interpreting practice continues to rapidly expand. We are always seeking ways to incorporate best practices to better serve our clients.

We attended a session presented by Razvan State who is employed with the Swedish public hospital. He has spearheaded an interpreter scheduling and monitoring platform that is currently being used across the Swedish public hospitals. The system allows for real time monitoring of interpreters. Sweden has taken in more refugees per capita than any other country. These newly arrived refugees often do not speak Swedish or English. Due to these circumstances, the volume of interpreter services has increased dramatically in Sweden.

Using the platform, Mr. State is able to track different metrics such as monitoring the number of interpreters attending appointments at what time of the day and language. As well as hundreds other metrics. The goal for this platform is not to cut cost but rather provide better value. The data can be used to understand peak time for interpreters by language. Non-attendance was a metric captured as well. If Translationz’ interpreters were being tracked on this system, we would no doubt score very high in our attendance rates.

Another topic presented was Telephone/Remote interpretation. Because Translationz has an on demand telephone and video platform this topic was of high interest to our organization and we always trying to educate ourselves on the new technological developments and best practices. The presenter talked about the pros and cons of remote and video interpretation.

The pros are that it is cost-effective, time-saving, and accessible to all. The cons are lack of briefings, and sometimes visual interactions, technical issues, unpredictable and irregular work, physical discomfort, higher stress factors and fatigue that comes when working remotely. We must be prepared to innovate as there is still much room for improvement.

Finally, I’d like to add a few words about the ‘extras’ we got from attending the conference. One of these was the sampling of different cultures through various food and delicacies that were on offer. Then there was the nice, warm Brisbane weather, which we found to be as warm as all the people and our fellow delegates coming from all over the world.

It was a great place to meet new people, including fellow translators and interpreters and we even snuck in a few client meetings!

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