In January of 1980, 32 interpreters from across Ontario met at Ernest C. Drury School for the Deaf in Milton, Ontario. This was the first endeavour by interpreters in the province to unite in their efforts to strengthen the profession. The goals of the association included the following:
- support interpreters and others interested in the development of the profession
- educate both Deaf and hearing consumers about interpreting services
- compile and maintain an up-to-date directory of active interpreters across Ontario
- work towards establishing and developing interpreting training opportunities and programs, both formal and informal
The association was known as the Ontario Interpreters Association (OIA), and its first President was Louise Ford. Over the following year members of OIA formed various committees to
- work on Professional Development activities
- host evaluations with the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
- develop the framework for their constitution
In January of 1982, 24 interpreters met at a Special Meeting in Ottawa where they formally adopted constitutional by-laws. The name of the association was changed to the Ontario Association of Sign Language Interpreters (OASLI). Its first President was Lorna Schuster.
When Ontario Interpreting Services was established in 1980-81, OASLI members represented the association. OASLI members also represented the association during the establishment of all 4 Interpreter Education Programs across Ontario - Sheridan College, Cambrian College, St. Clair College and George Brown College. Members continue to represent the interest of the association on various Advisory Committees.
Over the years, many individuals have volunteered their time to sit on the Board of Directors and/or participate in Ad Hoc and Standing Committees. These members work behind the scenes to
- ensure that the association remains strong
- meet fiduciary responsibilities
- provide Professional Development opportunities
- keep the membership informed of current issues and trends
These same people offer mentoring opportunities to those who have recently entered into the profession, supporting and guiding newer practitioners.
OASLI is deeply thankful to all the volunteers who have supported the association over the years. These countless volunteers continue the vision of those pioneers who first met in Milton in 1980.