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Formal name

The World Association of Sign Language Interpreters


The World Association of Sign Language Interpreters was established 23 July 2003 during the 14th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf in Montreal Canada.

1975 Washington DC, USA: The concept of an international association was first put forward during the WFD Congress

1995 Vienna, Austria: An international meeting of interpreters selected Raija Moustegaard and Raili Ojala-Signell, both from Finland, to develop statutes for an international association

1999 Brisbane, Australia: During the WFD Congress, 150 interpreters from 30 nations met. It was agreed to set up a Working Group to undertake the following: (1) expand the draft statutes into a Governing Document (2) share it with participants at the WFD Congress and with other countries as contacts became known (3) ask for formal letters of support from national associations and (4) prepare to be updated at a further meeting to take place at the next WFD Congress in Montreal Canada in 2003

2002 Washington DC, USA: The World Symposium for Sign Language Interpreters, sponsored by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, provided an update on the work of the Working Group. The number of people on the Working Group was increased.

2003 Montreal, Canada: 60 interpreters representing 20 nations together with WFD General Secretary Carol lee Aquiline saw the establishment of WASLI – the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters on 23 July 2003. The representative from South Africa agreed to host the first WASLI Conference in 2005.

2003 – 2005: The Working Group set about (1) establishing contact with as many interpreters and interpreter associations throughout the world as possible (2) preparing the documentation that was needed to formalise the Association (3) developed a sponsorship programme raising money to assist delegates from the poorer nations to come to South Africa (4) to set in place the structures needed to be an International Association.


2011 Durban, South Africa:

The third WASLI Conference welcomed 160 delegates from 46 countries, including 17 African countries. The keynote speaker on the conference theme of "Think Globally: Act Locally" was Colin Allen who went on to be elected as WFD president a few days later. The new WASLI Executive Board saw a significant change of personnel with only three remaining from the previous board. The new president was Debra Russell and the new secretary, Awoii Patrick Michael. Honorary Life Membership was awarded to the founding president and secretary, Liz Scott Gibson and Zane Hema respectively, who each stood down from office.


  • Arun Rao (India) - He is Dimp and Duff! - The Challenges of Interpreting in India
  • Awoii Patrick Micheal (Uganda) - A Glimpse at Development of Sign Language Interpretation in Uganda
  • Rachel McKee (NZ), Della Goswell & Jemina Napier (Australia) - Expanding horizons: A collaborative model for the delivery of one interpreter education programme in two countries
  • Angela Murray (NZ) & Joneti Rokotuibau (Fiji) - Working together to support the Solomon Islands: An emerging Deaf and interpreting community
  • Jemina Napier (Australia) - 6-Up: Research on signed language interpreting in Australia
  • Hend Al-Showaier (Saudi Arabia) - Sign Language Interpreting in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from a Deaf user Perspective
  • Harumi Kimura & Noriko Miyazawa (Japan) - Training for more liberal translation; from the lessons of interpreting course in Japan
  • Ananda van der Walt and Trudie Theunissen (South Africa) - Deaf interpreter training in South Africa: A Pilot Project

2007 Segovia, Spain:

The second WASLI Conference welcomed 293 delegates from 44 countries. The WASLI/WFD Joint Agreement is signed. The second WASLI Executive Board was elected and 3 individuals were appointed to develop the work of WASLI in Africa, South America and the Balkans.

The Presenters:

  • Georgina Major (New Zealand)
  • Emiko Ichikawa (Japan)
  • Selman Hoti (Kosovo) and Susan Emerson (Australia)

2007 Madrid, Spain: The WASLI and WFD Presidents sign the joint agreement before the WFD General Assembly. The WASLI President and Secretary made a presentation 'Working Together' at the WFD Congress as part of the Commission on Interpreting.

2005 Worcester, South Africa: The first conference of WASLI welcomed over 220 delegates from over 40 countries. With the support of WFD and the National Association of the Deaf this 3-day event was the realisation of the previous 20 years. The first WASLI Board was elected, including Liz Scott Gibson as president and Zane Hema as secretary. The Board will now get to work to put in place the necessary structures, policies and procedures that WASLI need. FILSE, the Spanish national association of interpreters agreed to host WASLI 2007.

Status of sign language

Article 3 LANGUAGE – English is the official language for WASLI documents. English and International Sign are the official languages of WASLI meetings. The translation of documentation is encouraged.


WASLI country report 2007

WASLI country report 2011


International Societies and Congresses of sign language
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