NRCPD speaks to Sister Maria McCready

05 January 2022

As part of our celebrations for the 40-year anniversary since CACDP's first register of sign language interpreters, we spoke to RSLI Sister Maria McCready. Sister Maria is one of the founder members of CACDP's first register and to this day, is the only NRCPD registered interpreter from 1982 who is still on the registers 40 years later.

In the late 70's and early 80's, Sister Maria became a qualified social worker working with the Deaf communities. She learned British Sign Language by joining a residential home in Manchester that had a lot of Deaf children. She says: "Over the years, signing became very natural to me."

Through her work with the Deaf communities, she recalls that Stewart Simpson was very keen to develop the register for qualified interpreters in the UK. Sister Maria further says that "this was to recognise sign language as having a professional qualification in BSL and to ensure services for Deaf and Deafblind people and for this to recognised by the state."

"I remember that Canon Sutcliffe from the Church of England was involved in this, as well as Charles Hollywood who was the director of Deaf Services. There were many others too." Sister Maria was also an 'Interpreter of Known Ability' and after passing interpreter training courses in Reading, she was admitted to the Register of Interpreters for Deaf people on 27th November 1982.

"I was very happy about becoming a registered interpreter because Deaf people were then able to trust me as a qualified interpreter. The Deaf community had issues around family members interpreting, and with confidentiality when working with unregistered interpreters and it was especially pivotal that I became a registered interpreter because Deaf people then knew I followed a Code of Ethics."

"When their first register of interpreters was formed, Deaf people were then able to become more independent and feel like they could ask more questions especially in medical domains on topics such as contraception because they knew qualified and registered interpreters kept information from assignments confidential".

She also worked with the late Terry Riley's parents in the assessments of interpreters before CACDP developed the first register. This was in 1981 and Sister Maria says that his parents "strongly felt that Deaf people should be involved in the assessments of interpreters as it was their 'rightful place'."

"I remember that Deaf people such as Linda Richards and Ruth Roberts were involved in the assessments of interpreters in the early 80's and then became tutors of British Sign Language. They were very good and very supportive."

Sister Maria currently works as an Interpreter at the Catholic Deaf Association in Manchester and has worked with Manchester Deaf Centre and St. Joseph's Deaf Centre over the years.

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