Specialization of interpreting practice exists in the field of interpreting and interpreter education through de facto and de jure processes. Interpreters are de facto specialists when they self-designate as having specialized competence for working in a particular setting, with certain populations, or within unique functions. Conversely, interpreters may be designated as specialists through external (de jure) processes such as adhering to national standards, completing advanced educational programming in specialty areas, and achieving specialty certification. There are a variety of factors that have shaped the evolution of specialization in the United States—several of which have application to the specialization of practice regardless of locale. This article addresses the implications of specialization for the fields of interpreting and interpreter education with specific attention to necessary elements associated with the preparation of practitioners for specialist practice. These elements are framed within the context of assumptions that currently exist in interpreting literature and/or current practices related to the training and certification of specialist practitioners. This framework offers sound rationale for the establishment of structured mechanisms to guide the intentional development of specializations within signed language interpreting.


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