Photo: AIIC Sign Language Network

AIIC Sign Language Network

Connecting sign language interpreters with the global AIIC community.


Conference sign language interpreters started to join AIIC in 2012. The AIIC Sign Language Network (SLN) brings together AIIC members – across the Association’s regions – to act as contact people on matters relating to conference interpreters working with one or more sign languages.

Introduction to AIIC Sign Language Network landing page in International Sign with English captions.

The first SLN steering committee was elected at the SLN ordinary meeting in January 2022, just before the AIIC Assembly). Members of the steering committee are Chloé Chénetier-Kipping, Karen Green, Oliver Pouliot, Christopher Tester , Maya de Wit (coordinator).

During AIIC’s 2009 Nice Assembly, the Association set up the Sign Language Network as a group entrusted with the task of exploring the possibility of creating links with sign language interpreters (SLIs).
Owing to the many nationalities represented by AIIC members, the first meeting of the group provided a valuable exchange of views, enabling us to examine the situation of sign language and the interpretation into sign language in various countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Scotland, Switzerland and the USA. The first SLN coordinator was Aude-Valerie Monfort (2012-2016).

The aims of this international network are:

  • Maintain and broaden the dialogue between sign language interpreters (SLIs) and AIIC.
  • provide information and advice about sign languages and sign language interpreters
  • Maintain contact between AIIC and local, national and international SLI associations and with individual SLIs.
  • Promote AIIC’s principles and values among SLI associations and individual SLIs
Obviously, these aims can only be achieved in cooperation with the SLI associations, although the SLN is also keen to consult the deaf communities and their representatives directly (local or national associations), as well as AIIC members, to ensure that the interests of the various stakeholders (interpreters and users of SLI services) are taken into account.


AIIC Resolution on conference interpreters using spoken and/or sign languages, adopted in 2018 at the AIIC Assembly [Resolution 402]


The AIIC Sign Language Network developed together with the stakeholders several guidelines. These are available in English, French, German, and Spanish. Click on the links below to directly download the guidelines.

Guidelines for positioning of sign language interpreters in conferences, including webstreaming

English (EN)

Guidelines for spoken language interpreters working in mixed teams

English (EN)

Spanish (ES)

German (DE)

Guidelines for sound engineers when SL and spoken conference interpreters work in the same team

English (EN)

French (FR)

Spanish (ES)


SLN members are AIIC members (active, associate or honorary) as well as candidates and pre-candidates who have a signed language in their language combination and who have an interest in sign language interpreting and wish to contribute and support the Sign Language Network activities.

How to join AIIC

Info on how to join AIIC:

─── FAQ

1. What is International Sign (IS)?

When deaf people from different language backgrounds meet, they are much more easily able to communicate with each other in comparison to hearing people from different language backgrounds when they first come into contact. This communication is referred to as International Sign (IS). The term IS, rather than International Sign Language or International Signs, indicates that IS does not have full linguistic status but is a translanguaging practice. (Source: WFD)

2. Is sign language universal?

No, it is not. Sign languages are natural languages that have the same linguistic properties as spoken languages. They have evolved over years in the different Deaf Communities across the world and Europe. Despite widespread opinions there is not one single universal sign language in the world or even in Europe. Just as spoken languages, signed languages vary greatly between countries and ethnic groups. Some countries have more than one sign language or dialect. Countries that have the same spoken language do not necessarily have the same signed language (see for example Germany and Austria). (Source: EUD)

3. Can you provide interpretation into English Sign Language?

Each English speaking country has their own national sign language. In the UK British Sign Language (BSL) is used and in the USA it is American Sign Language (ASL). BSL and ASL are not part of the same language family. Other sign languages used in English speaking countries are for example Irish Sign Language, Australian Sign Language and New Zealand Sign Language.

4. Is it hard to learn a sign language?

Probably it takes approximately the same amount of time to learn sign language as to learn any other spoken language. What can be challenging is to find a place that offers sign language classes. Check with your national or regional deaf association to find out more.

5. Why do sign language interpreters mostly work simultaneously?

Sign language interpreters primarily work between two modalities: the visual-gestural modality of sign languages and the oral-auditory modality of spoken languages. Since those two modalities do not interfere sign language interpreters mostly work simultaneously.

6. Is it possible to interpret any topic from a spoken into a signed language?

Anything said in one language can be delivered into another language, whether it is a signed or spoken language. That is also true for the interpretation from a spoken to a signed language, any topic can be interpreted.

7. Can signed languages be used in conference interpreting?

Conference interpreters use spoken and/or signed languages. All AIIC members are conference interpreters, engaged in conference interpreting, irrespective of whether they do so by means of spoken languages only, signed languages only, or a combination of both.

8. Should I provide interpretation into International Sign or a national sign language at my event?

The language interpretation services that you provide at your event should match those of the participants. If it is a national event with participants from one country, then provide interpretation into the national sign language. For example, for an event in Germany you can provide interpretation into German Sign Language (DGS). For an international oriented event, you can consider providing interpretation into International Sign (IS) as well as interpretation into the national sign language of the country where the event is hosted.

9. Which sign language should I provide at my event?

When booking a sign language interpreter, the Deaf participant(s) signer must be consulted on their language and interpreter preferences, especially for high-level meetings. Event organisers are responsible to ensure participation in public events by providing interpreting services. Offering this kind of service encourages deaf people to attend and be involved, ensuring equal access and opportunities that are also available to a hearing audience. (Source: EUD)

10. Where can I find conference sign language interpreters in my country?

Sign language interpreters are members of AIIC. You can find an interpreter here). You can also contact your national sign language interpreter association in your country. Another option would be contacting the national deaf association for advice, you can find them via the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD).

11. What are the technical requirements to provide sign language interpretation at an event?

The AIIC Sign Language Network wrote up guidelines for the positioning and web streaming of sign language interpreters at your event. Read the guidelines.

12. Why do you work with sign language interpreters if you are not a sign language interpreter?

Spoken and signed language interpreters mostly work together at multilingual conferences. They work together in the same way as when with other language interpreters. Sign language interpreters work between two signed languages or between a spoken and a signed language. In the latter, sign language interpreters interpreting into a spoken language provide the relay for the spoken language interpreter colleagues and vice versa. Sign and spoken language interpreters might be less familiar in working in the same setting, therefore it is recommended to clarify the interpreting process and the setup before the start of the event.

13. Why do hearing people also need a sign language interpreter?

Communication goes both ways. If hearing people who do not know a sign language wish to understand what their deaf interlocutors say, they will need interpretation from the signed language into their spoken language.

14. Why do sign language interpreters tend to wear dark clothing?

Sign language interpreters do not always wear dark colours. It is important to wear clothing that contrasts with the interpreter’s skin tone because this is visually easier to view.

15. Can sign language interpreters read braille?

Braille is a portrayal of print, and is not related to sign languages. Therefore sign language interpreters are not trained in braille. Some sign language interpreters are trained and qualified to interpret into a tactile form of sign language for deafblind persons.

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