Keynote 1 Hilde Haualand

“Awkward: the flip side of sign language interpreting”.

The sign language interpreting (SLI) services that have been professionalized the past 4-5 decades have been a game changer for deaf people as well as for education and public service providers. There has been a bumpy, yet quite continuous development in terms of consolidating legislation, working opportunities, financial measures, certification, and educational opportunities, and continued professional development (CPD) incentives. The underlying message of the professionalization and continued development of SLI has been that the more, better, and diverse interpreters, the better access for deaf people. (Brunson, 2015; De Meulder & Haualand, 2021)

The development of SLI has particularly benefited multilingual deaf people with sufficient world and system knowledge to work critically with and around SLI.  SLI has also given professional service providers an opportunity to serve deaf people, yet without the access hearing people/clients who speak the language of the service providers, have. In this talk, some of thte flip sides of SLI will be addressed. Some of these are consequences of the way SLI legislation, education and services have evolved. Other disadvantages are related to ideologies and beliefs related to both language and interpreting and will not necessarily change if we continue to only talk about more, better, and diverse interpreters.

Most people who have been involved in an interpreted event either by working or communicating via a SLI, or as a SLI have experienced awkward moments because the event is interpreted. The awkward sides of SLI are however not confined to these micro situations, and there are also some awkward effects of SLI at meso and macro levels. At the meso level, this is apparent in how SLI education programs and service provision is run by hearing people (interpreters or non-signers) in systems that also exclude deaf people from stakeholder positions.  The macro level is related to the legislation that mandates SLI services, as well as ideologies related to language, interpreting and disability (Angermeyer, 2010; Haviland, 2003). SLI has become a social institution which could hamper, rather than contribute to its intention to provide equal opportunities for deaf people. While individual interpreters may not have much power to change the situation, it is important that sign language interpreters as a professional group assess their profession from a macro perspective, to reduce or compensate for the potential harms of uncritical provision of SLI services.

Angermeyer, P. S. (2010). Interpreter-mediated interaction as bilingual speech: Bridging macro- and micro-sociolinguistics in codeswitching research. The international journal of bilingualism : cross-disciplinary, cross-linguistic studies of language behavior, 14(4), 466-489.

Brunson, J. (2015). A sociology of interpreting. InSigned Language Interpretation and Translation Research, ed. byBrenda Nicodemus and Keith Cagle, 130-149.

De Meulder, M., & Haualand, H. (2021). Sign language interpreting services: A quick fix for inclusion? Translation and Interpreting Studies. The Journal of the American Translation and Interpreting Studies Association, 16(1), 19-40.

Haviland, J. B. (2003). Ideologies of Language: Some Reflections on Language and U.S. Law. American Anthropologist, 105(4), 764-774.

Keynote 2 Selina Jacques

Intersectionality and Interpreting: Exploring interpreters of colour in the UK.

An empirical exploration of British Sign Language/English Interpreters (BSLI) who identify as a person of colour, using the framework of intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1991; Hill Collins, 2015).
Interpreting research has historically been monolithic in its interests. I hypothesised that a lack of research into intersectionality had left many interpreters of colour feeling as though they were not important. Furthermore, there would be systematic reasons for those feelings, such as a lack of representation within the field of interpreting and unconscious bias. They would also experience microaggressions, racism, and prejudice. The research was a phenomenological view of the experiences of British Sign Language/English Interpreters of colour (BSLIOC) in the UK, using a mixed-methods qualitative and quantitative approach. This ethnographic research had roots in cultural anthropology, ethnographic research is on the increase due to the growing recognition of the complexities within the human experience, so this begs the question, why is the interpreting community so far behind?