Advocacy Tool Kit: Getting Started

What do you mean by advocacy?

The NAJIT Advocacy Committee defines advocacy as taking individual and collective action to improve our profession’s standing. In this toolkit, we share the strategies and tactics that have worked for many interpreter groups in building a better, more sustainable culture in their regions, one that values the contributions of professional interpreters.

This sounds overwhelming. Where do I begin?

Step One: Take some time to reflect on what is not working in your area and why you are motivated to try to fix it. Unsurprisingly, advocacy can be stressful work. The better you understand your own motivations, the stronger you will be when the going gets tough. Click here to explore our workbook for some self-reflection prompts. 

Step Two: Create a team if there isn’t one already. What other interpreters in your area share your concerns and are willing to roll up their sleeves and start working to improve your situation?  Send out an email or text message inquiring about their interest in working with you to improve the situation for court interpreters in your area. Remember, diversity is strength. Reach out to all interpreters – think beyond those who share your language pair and certification level. As soon as you have a few solid responses, set up a meeting with interested parties.

Step Three: Set your goals. As a small group, list your concerns, large and small. Finally, determine which ones will take priority and what steps you will take to get the ball rolling.

Step Four: Get to work!

Lots of things need fixing in my state. What should we focus on first?

You know your region best, so you and your team should make this call. Weigh your options and priorities and use those ideas to inform your strategies.  Some teams work on small, achievable goals first. Others jump straight into larger institutional problems. Start with the issues that will motivate you and your colleagues.  Progress is seldom immediate, so choose matters that can keep you and your colleagues engaged for the long haul.

Nobody really values court interpreters in my state. Should I even try?

If YOU value interpreters, you should try! People respect those who stand up for what they believe. Before you begin, take stock. Try to determine why language access seems not to be a priority in your region and what you can do to improve things. Remember, people in your jurisdiction may care; they may simply be unaware of what you do and what is going on in your field.  Educate court staff; advocate for the profession. It only takes one person to get the ball rolling!

Ok, I’m motivated to get something started. Is there anything I need to be careful NOT to do?

We have many suggestions on what to do and not do here. But two things stand out:

  1. First, be fearless.  You don’t have to have all the answers before you begin. If you’re reading this, you care about the profession and want to help.  This attitude will take you far.
  2. Second, don’t overthink things. Just get started. And keep reading for more tips!