History of ASLI

When was ASLI officially established?

ASLI was officially established 26/27 August 1987 at the High Leigh Conference Centre in Hertfordshire.

Why was ASLI established?

ASLI was established:

to provide a forum for professional discussion on all issues relating to sign language interpreting and the provision of interpreting services;

  • to promote the raising and maintenance of standards in interpreting
  • to encourage training and other initiatives
  • to provide information for interpreters and consumers
  • to promote research into areas of relevance to interpreters or interpreting services
  • to advise and cooperate with others interested in sign language interpreting

What happened at the inaugural meeting?

About 40 people attended an inaugural meeting to form an association of sign language interpreters for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The first day was a workshop day that included discussions on Interpreter Services, Training, Conference and Community Interpreting and Professionalism.

The second day was a business meeting to agree objectives, membership and some aspects of the Association’s Constitution.

People attending the meeting included members of the Register of Interpreters, people who are awaiting assessment for the Register, other Stage 3 people, Deaf and hearing consumers.

To enable participation in this important event: a crèche was arranged; interpreting services were provided by two Scottish interpreters; the meeting was looped; overhead projections were used.’

Who were the members of the first ASLI Executive?




John LEE

Treasurer/Membership Secretary:

Caroline TAYLOR

Executive Members:




Marie HALL

What happened next?

The first ASLI Annual General Meeting took place on the 16 July 1988 at the Magic Circle, Gower Street in London.

ASLI National Chairs

In 2005, the former National Chairs of the Association formed a group that would be a resource for the current National Executive Committee as well as a link to the past.  The Former Chairs Group has assisted in the production of this page.

Whilst we no longer have a National Chair, our constitutional structure having been updated, Jill Henshaw is the current Chair of the Board of ASLI.

You can read more about our history on the over the years page


ASLI would like to acknowledge the contribution to the many people who have contributed to the work on the ASLI History and in particular to Byron Campbell, Pádraigín Ní Rághillíg, Peter Llewellyn-Jones, Gloria Ogborn, Roger Beeson, Caroline Bickerton and Zane Hema.