Policy and Guidelines
As an academic unit of the University of Illinois, the Program in Translation and Interpreting Studies supports and promotes recognized professional translation and interpreting standards. A core tenet of professional organizations for translators and interpreters, including the American Translators Association (ATA) and the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC), is that anyone performing interpreting or translation services must be qualified and adequately compensated.
The Program in Translation and Interpreting Studies often receives requests for volunteer or paid translation and interpreting services. When these requests are made by representatives of public institutions or non-profit entities, we make every effort to provide consultations or to direct the requester to reliable resources. In the great majority of other cases, all stakeholders are best served by consulting the directories of qualified translators and interpreters available here:
3. American Translators Association (includes interpreters)
When other options are not available, we will evaluate individual requests for translation or interpreting services. We are able to recommend students or faculty for translation and interpreting services only when we can be assured that they are well qualified and that proper working conditions will be provided. This happens only rarely, and these requests usually cannot be fulfilled within a short time period.
Individuals or organizations needing translation or interpreting services should take into account the following:
- Proficiency in a second or native language does not mean that one is qualified to serve as an interpreter or a translator.
- In order to provide high-quality interpreting services, one must be trained and qualified in several areas beyond language proficiency, including but not limited to interpreting techniques and skills, terminology, cultural awareness, ethical standards, professional conduct, personal and professional boundaries, impartiality, confidentiality, transparency, working conditions and advocacy, and considerations specific to each interpreted event.
- In order to provide high-quality translation services, one must be trained and qualified in several areas beyond language proficiency, including but not limited to translation techniques and skills, terminology, cultural awareness, ethical standards, professional conduct, personal and professional boundaries, confidentiality, working conditions and advocacy, text types and genres, use of computer-assisted translation tools, target-language style and conventions, context and meaning, and considerations specific to each translation assignment.
- Requests for translation and interpreting services should not be indiscriminately forwarded by email with open invitations to provide the services as this will result in unvetted individuals performing tasks they may not be qualified to undertake.
- Identification of one or more students to provide translation or interpreting services should include measures to ensure that pre-service training is provided if necessary. CTS faculty can provide guidance on what this training should entail.
- Undergraduate students are unlikely to have the training necessary to provide quality interpreting services. In some cases, students could be trained to take on the tasks associated with what is sometimes described as “language mediation,” which may involve spending time with individuals who need assistance understanding certain procedures (for example, filling out a form, renting an apartment, or registering their children for programs). However, even this type of task requires preparation.
For these reasons, the policy of CTS is to refer those requesting services to professional organizations.