A connected community without language barriers

AUSIT Conference 2020

NAATI is a proud sponsor of AUSIT’s conferences, and in this week’s post, Despina Amanatidou writes about their upcoming national conference and highlights one of its keynote speakers. 

Traditionally the AUSIT National Conference is the most awaited professional development and networking event of the year. It is an optimal environment for presentation of research relevant to T&I but also interdisciplinary, for original exchange and debate and also a space where all stakeholders from practitioners to Language Service Providers to academics, etc. interact with each other and form professional relationships. 

The centrepiece of the industry’s professional development calendar promises this year to be even more unique due to restrictions in the movement of people imposed by COVID-19. For the first time ever the National Conference will be held fully online from November 20 to November 21. 

The organising committee has been working tirelessly to deliver a program busting with innovation and forward thinking in an attempt not only to understand the valuable lessons taught by this great disruption but to also identify where the opportunities of the future lie within the industry. 

As the pandemic forced us to change and adapt, and do so rapidly, the conference is tangible proof of the immense capacity that we as language professionals possess –or should possess – to diversify and find solutions even where things don’t appear at first glance to work for us but against us. 

In light of this, we’d like to cordially invite you to partake of this unique experiment and show your support to your industry and professional association. 

We have an array of engaging speakers, both national and international but of course, we don’t have the opportunity to profile them all in detail. However, we managed to profile one of our keynote speakers for this year, Associate Professor Stephen Doherty from the University of New South Wales.  

Stephen leads the HAL Language Processing Research Lab at UNSW, where he is an associate professor in linguistics, interpreting and translation. With a focus on the psychology of language and technology, his research investigates human and machine language processing using natural language processing techniques and combined on- and off-line methods. 

Here is what Associate Professor Stephen Doherty had to say about this year’s conference: 

a) What does excite you the most about being the keynote speaker for the first ever virtual T&I conference in Australia?  

I’m looking forward to interacting with such a diverse group from all over Australia and overseas. As my talk with focus on language technology, I’m keen to progress the discourse on how we can make the most of technology, particularly artificial intelligence, neural machine translation and remote interpreting. I’m excited to share examples of the positive impact and potential of these technologies and to hear about the experiences and perspectives of others working in and exploring this space. 

b) What are the main areas of your research and how are they relevant to a world in crisis? 

My research focuses on the psychology of language and language technology. I’m interested in how technology can widen and deepen human communication, particularly across languages and cultures, and how it can increase the quantity and quality of our access to digital content, including text-based information and audio-visual content. COVID-19 has shown us how we can use technology to overcome local, national, and international barriers of language and accessibility. That said, there are clear limitations and avoidable risks in using language technology, for instance, in machine translation and remote interpreting, and more work needs to be done to provide evidence-based best practice to all stakeholders, particularly for language service professionals and end users. 

c) What lessons do you hope Covid-19 will teach T&Is? 

I think we have learned once again that we are adaptive and agile. We have readily taken to using a multitude of technologies, from Zoom to Trello, to overcome the challenges of COVID-19 and to embrace new modes of working together and connecting people, communities, and organisations. The experience has increased our awareness of our truly global market where we can use technology to reach clients all over the world. As an educator, I’m also particularly impressed by how readily and effectively we have been able to teach online and maintain standards and engagement for current and future practitioners. As an industry, I think we will emerge with a more diverse skillset of technological competencies which will lead to exciting opportunities in the future. 

With a theme of ‘Business as Unusual’ the 2020 AUSIT conference is going to be very different and very interesting. For more information about the conference and how to register please follow this LINK

Post written by Despina Amanatidou, AUSIT’s Vice President Events and Professional Development, Chair of the National Conference Organising Committee, Greek Interpreter and Translator (English > Greek) and NAATI Certified Practitioner CPN5WF53B. 

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