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Police Interpreting

23rd January 2018 @ 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm


Professor Jemina Napier is Chair of Intercultural Communication, and Head of the Department of Languages & Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland where she teaches signed language and spoken language interpreting students at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and supervises various PhD students on topics related to sign language interpreting, translation, discourse and identity. She is a widely published interpreter researcher and educator and has practiced as a signed language interpreter since 1988. She is accredited as a BSL, Auslan and International Sign interpreter and is fluent in ASL. She is a Fellow of ASLI UK and the UK Chartered Institute of Linguists, and is also Honorary Life Member and past President of ASLIA (Australia) and was an inaugural board member of WASLI. She was co-chair of the WASLI-WFD Task Group on International Sign that established the new IS interpreting accreditation system in 2015, and is co-lead of the efsli Committee of Experts and a member of the WFD Expert Group on Accessibility (sign language interpreting).


There is a growing body of literature that examines sign language interpreting provisions and practices in legal contexts in various countries. The common theme in the results of all these studies is the limitations faced by deaf sign language users in gaining access to justice, either through inadequate interpreting provision, poor quality interpreting services, or lack of training, accreditation and standards for legal signed language interpreters and translators.

The Justisigns project (www.justisigns.eu) was conducted by a consortium of hearing and deaf researchers and signed language interpreter practitioners across Europe, with a focus on police interpreting, and had a remit to develop training courses to be made available to sign language interpreters, police and deaf sign language users. The training materials have been developed based on research evidence.

The mixed-methods study involved surveying deaf people, interpreters and police through questionnaires, focus groups and interviews, as well as conducting a qualitative linguistic case study analysis of signed language interpreter-mediated communication in an authentic police interview, and a collaborative translation of the Scottish police caution, with a view to informing the development of the training courses and other deliverables in the project.

The webinar will be divided into two parts:

Part 1 will provide an overview of the results of the project, and some of the challenges reported by deaf people, interpreters and police officers in ensuring that police interviews go smoothly.

Part 2 will give more detailed and specific examples from authentic data from a video recorded police interview with a deaf British Sign Language user, of how an interpreter managed the communication and strategies used, and how the potential positive and/or negative impact these strategies may have had on rapport building between the police interviewer and deaf suspect.

At the end of the webinar, the following learning objectives will be achieved. Participants will be able to:

  • Explain key barriers faced by deaf people in police settings
  • Identify the differences between police, interpreter and deaf people perspectives on the challenges faced
  • Articulate what and why rapport building strategies are used in police interviews
  • Describe how rapport building strategies can be impacted by interpreters
  • Identify best practice in interpreting police-suspect interviews

Like all ASLI webinars, this event is free to members. To book your place email your request, including a request for an interpreter if required, to training@asli.org.uk



23rd January 2018
7:30 pm - 8:30 pm


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