The National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) proposes radical changes to its system of accreditation of translators and interpreters from January 2018. The “accreditation” that has existed since 1977 will be replaced by “certification”.
NAATI plans to impose new requirements for ongoing registration and publish in its online directory only those translators and interpreters who become certified under the new scheme.
The move is causing concern among professionals in the industry, especially those practitioners who were granted permanent accreditation. NAATI has confirmed it cannot cancel or cease to recognise these permanent accreditations, but it will no longer include the names of these professionals on its website unless they become “certified”.
The certification would be valid for three years and would have to be renewed by showing proof of professional development and practice.
NAATI representatives met with translators and interpreters in Sydney and Melbourne over recent weeks to explain the proposed changes. They argued that the existing system was failing to meet current needs, had never been reviewed and had significant flaws in the validity of testing.
At the event in Sydney in June, practitioners questioned the speakers on many issues, such as the criteria for proving professional development and practice. The most outstanding criticism was that NAATI is abusing its dominant position in the market place by refusing to include accredited professionals in its online directory if they do not “transition” to certification.
Translators and interpreters accredited before 2007 were granted permanent accreditation. Those accredited since then have to “revalidate” every three years and prove that they are practising and engaging in professional development. These practitioners are issued with a stamp (used to stamp official translations) that includes the date their accreditation expires.
Slowly, the system has become confusing. Some clients wonder if the validity of their translation expires with the accreditation date (it does not); many are bewildered about the differences between certified, accredited, recognised and revalidated.
Over the last 40 years, NAATI has issued more than 50,000 accreditations to some 42,000 practitioners, across 210 languages, including 40 indigenous Australian languages.
NAATI has an interesting position in the industry, being both a private company and a regulatory body in charge of the testing and registration of translators and interpreters.
These professionals also have their national association with its own online directory, the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators Incorporated (AUSIT).