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Theme One: February 3rd- 4th 2010

Keynote presentation: Warning: Explicit Content! Profanity as a function of language and strategies for interpreters

Kelly Murphy
Vicarious Trauma: Implications for Interpreters Karen Malcolm
Facing intercultural and linguistic dilemmas: developing training materials for Sign Language interpreters in international settings (IISE)
Ester Bot,
Kati Huhtinen ,
Raili Loit and
Maya de Wit
Exploring Australian Sign Language interpreters' perceptions of interpreting in medical settings Jemina Napier, George Major, and Lindsay Ferrara
Extreme Interpreting: protests and demonstrations
Claire Haddon
Working with Dysfluency in Mental Health Settings Charlene Crump
Sexuality, Service Providers and the Deaf Community Christine Gannon
The BSL interpreter: help or hindrance; benefit or barrier? Sandra Dowe and Linda Squelch
Theme Two: February 5th- 6th 2010
Keynote presentation: Recognizing politeness differences between deaf and hearing cultures: a key to effective interpreting Anna Mindess and Dr. Thomas K. Holcomb
Saving Face: Politeness in Interpreted Interaction Jack Hoza
Hearing Culture: piece of cake! Deaf Culture: oops! SLI Culture: what??? Erika Zeegers
Deaf Interpreters: The same but different? Jen Dodds
Stress, Burnout and Vicarious Trauma: The Benefits of Supervision for Interpreters Ali Hetherington
Interpreters and vicarious trauma: Stress and coping strategies Karen Bontempo and
Dr Valerie van Loggerenberg
Dilemma workshop Lynette Reep
Other online sessions (throughout the conference)
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Theme One

Keynote presentation: Warning: Explicit Content! Profanity as a function of language and strategies for interpreters by Kelly Murphy (USA)

It is amazing how much damage four little letters can do. Profanity as a function of language has often been overlooked and not considered "real" language, (Jay, 2000) however interpreters do not have the luxury of dismissing this emotional component. Due to its potential for miscommunication and emotional harm, professionals should have educated and informed strategies for managing these utterances and be able to articulate their decision rationale. Professionals will benefit from education about profanity, its linguistic function, analysis of speaker intent, and a facilitated discussion of cultural differences from country to country. From our collective experiences, we can re-examine situations we have faced in the past and use those to plan for the future. Interpreters will significantly benefit from further education, collaborative discussion, and analysis in a safe environment - to ready themselves the next time they face those four little letters.

Vicarious Trauma: Implications for Interpreters by Karen Malcolm (Canada)

This presentation will outline the effects of vicarious trauma and the need for self-care strategies for interpreters. Symptoms of vicarious trauma will be identified. There will also be a discussion of models of interpreting and the impact of interpreting in stressful situations. The discussion hopes to elicit experiences and practice in other countries and will set the scene for further discussion about strategies and the impact of supervision in theme two.


Exploring Australian Sign Language interpreters' perceptions of interpreting in medical settings by Jemina Napier, George Major, and Lindsay Ferrara (Australia)

Researchers have identified the various challenges that can occur when interpreting for medical encounters, particularly if interpreters are untrained, do not have a clear understanding of their role, or do not understand the linguistic and discourse protocols of medical interactions (see for example Angelelli, 2003, 2005; Dysart-Gale, 2005; Wadensjö, 2001). Language, cultural and educational impediments in the effective use of signed language interpreters in medical and mental health service delivery have been identified by Australian researchers (Cornes & Napier, 2005; Napier & Cornes, 2004; Napier & Johnston, 2005), but until 2008 no linguistic research had been carried out in Australia on signed language interpreter-mediated medical encounters.

In this paper we will describe an Australian project* in which we initially outline the development of a web-based interactive multimedia dictionary and database of Auslan to create an effective, accepted and shared sign language vocabulary for the discussion of medical and mental health issues by deaf clients and health professionals, mediated through Auslan interpreters. The conceptual framework for this project is language planning and development within a small linguistic community of 'limited diffusion'. This technology enables the direct participation of interpreters, deaf people and medical practitioners in a project managed by linguists, sign language interpreters, and language service providers (the National Auslan Interpreter Booking and Payment Service, and the New South Wales Health Care Interpreting Service).

The paper will outline the progress of the project, and specifically report on findings from discussions held with Auslan/English interpreters about their perceptions of interpreting in medical settings.

Facing intercultural and linguistic dilemmas: developing training materials for Sign Language interpreters in international settings (IISE) by Ester Bot (Netherlands), Kati Huhtinen (Finland), Raili Loit (Estonia) and Maya de Wit (Netherlands)

In the last decade we can see an increase in the number of deaf people participating in international events (Nardi, 2008). Although English is often used as the main language at an international event, there are also regularly interpreting services provided in other languages. This means that there can be interpretation available in different combinations of languages. Interpreters of spoken languages have a longstanding experience of cooperation in such settings. Sign language interpreters, however, are more used to working independently and solely with the client. In addition, there is no formal training available for sign language interpreters in international settings.

In January 2009 we started a two year EU funded project Training sign language interpreters in international settings (IISE). The aim of the project is to develop a training package for interpreters in international settings, which can be used for free for anyone interested in providing this training. This training does not only focus on sign language interpreters, but also on the cooperation and interpreting techniques between the different kinds of interpreters (spoken language, sign language, speech to text writers).

In order to develop this training we are also using the expertise of experienced sign language and spoken language interpreters already working in the international field. We posted four surveys on the internet for sign language interpreters (hearing and deaf), spoken language interpreters, and speech to text writers. The results of this survey and the research into existing literature were the basis of a first concept of the training package.

The first results show, amongst others, that:
  • there is a great need with the interpreters to understand the work of the other kind of interpreters, e.g. how they carry out their interpreting services
  • cooperation and interpreting techniques between all the different kinds of interpreters is needed
  • there are different expectancies between deaf and hearing interpreters when working in a team
  • the attitude of the interpreters is essential to provide full and equal access to all participants

During the online conference we would like to discuss these results in depth and give suggestions on how to proceed with these developments in the future.

Extreme Interpreting: protests and demonstrations by Claire Haddon (UK)

This paper aims to consider the position of an interpreter working in a voluntary capacity during protests or demonstrations. It will outline what kind of work might be commonly encountered in these settings and what kinds of conflicts those jobs might throw up in terms of role, ethics, motivation and power. It considers what skills an interpreter might need that particularly suit this work and what conditions the interpreter might wish to negotiate before embarking on such work. In the light of changing interpreter training ethos, the paper concludes that perhaps more interpreters will choose to engage in this kind of work, and that it might actually be quite a liberating and beneficial experience.

The BSL interpreter: help or hindrance; benefit or barrier? by Sandra Dowe and Linda Squelch (UK)

An Interpreter can be barrier between speaker and signer because the signer has to look at the interpreter and cannot look at the speaker. Many interpreters appear to lack fluency in BSL because they allow English grammar to interfere with their production of BSL. Many interpreters are not aware of regional variance and cannot adapt to signs in different geographical areas. Interpreters sometimes fail to change register to suit a deaf person. Often they sign using English mouth patterns and lack fluency in the use of non-manual features. Interpreters lack flexibility in translating for deaf people. The old code of practice prevented them from rephrasing or giving short explanations if a deaf client looks puzzled and they continue to feel inhibited from adding information to the translation. The use of the first person by the interpreter can confuse the listener by identifying the interpreter as the deaf person. Having to use an interpreter can cause a deaf person to feel a lack of independence and control in a situation where speakers are unfamiliar with signed communication. BSL interpreting can be thankless work, necessary but pleasing neither signer nor speaker who fail to establish a rapport when in communication with each other.

Working with Dysfluency in Mental Health Settings by Charlene Crump

Interpreters working in mental health settings work with clients who often exhibit dysfluency from psychosis, etiology of deafness, and language deprivation. Considerations for appropriate interpretations change depending upon the language fluency, background and current diagnosis of the patient. Participants will examine how behavior and language patterns may present themselves differently and review approaches and techniques for interpretation including analysis of working relationships with CDIs in therapeutic settings and development of a visual toolkit and a mental health portfolio.

Sexuality, Service Providers and the Deaf Community by Christine Gannon (USA)

This workshop will focused on identifying sensitive sexuality situations that could arise when working with individuals or the community. During the discussion, participants will be encouraged to assess what makes a situation challenging to deal with, to apply suggested tips for managing the situations and then will be invited to share other experiences.

The session hopes to:

  • Identify values, attitudes, and beliefs about sexuality and discuss the impact of these on interpreting practice.
  • Examine ways to handle sensitive sexuality situations that could arise within the interpreting setting.
  • Explore different strategies for managing sensitive situations.
  • Determine the relevance of knowledge about sexuality to educational interpreting practice.

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Theme Two

Keynote presentation: Recognizing politeness
differences between deaf and hearing cultures: a key to
effective interpreting by Anna Mindess and Dr. Thomas K. Holcomb (USA)

Interactions between members of any two cultures are fertile ground for misunderstandings and misjudgments based on cultural differences in values and behavior. This presentation will include three scenes from an educational DVD entitled SEE WHAT I MEAN: Differences between Deaf and Hearing Cultures, 2nd edition. These enacted scenarios illustrate common situations (involving phone etiquette, lateness and information sharing) from both Deaf and hearing (American) cultural perspectives. Subsequent discussion questions encourage viewers to examine their own definitions of cultural politeness as well as consider interpreting strategies that may be useful in situations where Deaf and hearing participants’ opposing views of politeness can lead to conflict. With delegates from around the world, this is a rare opportunity to engage in lively comparison of cultural mismatches among a variety of cultures.


Deaf Interpreters: The same but different? by Jen Dodds (UK)

This paper looks closely at the many roles taken on by Deaf interpreters in the UK, who have been around just as long as 'hearing' Sign Language interpreters, but whose functions are subject to much misunderstanding and controversy.

As a Deaf person who works as a British Sign Language/English interpreter, the author of this paper frequently encounters misconceptions about her role, when it is assumed that she either works as a Deaf relay interpreter or that she is somehow miraculously able to hear.

It cannot be denied that whatever communicative forms of interpreting Deaf interpreters employ, they play an important role in interpreting between the Deaf community and hearing society. This paper seeks to examine exactly what UK-based Deaf interpreters do, how their roles vary, and how the traditional confusion may be cleared up.

Hearing Culture: piece of cake! Deaf Culture: OOPS! SLI Culture: what??? by Erika Zeegers (Netherlands)

As hearing people working in the Deaf world we are used to thinking, talking and acting from a hearing perspective and see ourselves, deaf clients and hearing clients from this perspective. Nothing new so far. To make it understandable to ourselves we have divided the cultures involved into hearing and deaf culture. Depending on how long we work in the Deaf world, we consider ourselves part of the hearing culture and, after a period of time, we can become members of the Deaf community, although this ‘promotion’ depends on the willingness of Deaf people to accept them. Mmmm...this a new phenomenon for hearing people, used to be the part of a majority (hearing society) suddenly to be in the minority.

What makes it even harder: dependency comes knocking on our door. Dependency when it comes to sign language, voicing, knowledge of the rules of this new culture. And also the interpreters can face many dilemmas - for example, hearing people asking silly and painful questions; deaf people are as straight forward as possible (what will the hearing client think about it?); I don’t want the hearing client to think deaf people are fools (and maybe they think they same about me!).

To survive in this jungle and to juggle all these different skills and feelings we have created a new culture of ourselves:


But -
Who do we allow to be a member?
Coda’s (the number 1 interpreters?)
Deaf interpreters?
What are the positive elements of SLI culture?
What are the negative elements of SLI culture?
Why do we need a SLI culture anyway??
Are Deaf consumers allowed to teach on SLI culture the way we have done and still do on Deaf culture?
Can we label all our typical behaviour as SLI culture?

So: Sign Language interpreter culture......Food for Thought!

Saving Face: Politeness in Interpreted Interaction by Jack Hoza (USA)

Linguistic politeness can be defined as the way people alter the way they express themselves in order to save face for participants in interaction. This level of language usage expresses social meaning: what the participants are communicating about their relationship and the ongoing social interaction. The interpreter's decisions regarding this level of meaning can have a profound effect on the primary participants' interaction and perception of each other.

This presentation reports on a study that investigated how interpreters manage politeness concerns during interpreted interaction. The study involved videotaping six interpreted supervision meetings that occurred in social service agencies between ASL signers (Deaf people) and English speakers (hearing people). The findings indicate that a variety of threats to face emerge in the dynamics of interpreted interaction and that interpreters need to handle, and do handle, these threats to face. The study reveals the types of impact these decisions have on the interaction between the primary participants, as well as on the interaction between the interpreter and the primary participants. Situations such as co-occurring activities (such as reading materials during a meeting), interpreter corrections, participants' roles, turn-taking strategies, and managing a heated discussion are examples of the types of issues that pose face-threats that the interpreters managed in the videotaped meetings.

Stress, Burnout and Vicarious Trauma: The Benefits of Supervision for Interpreters by Ali Hetherington (UK)

There is a common misconception of interpreting as solely working from a source to a target language without an understanding or appreciation of how interpreters manage the complexities of human interaction. In addition Interpreters often work in isolation in highly sensitive and emotive situations with limited support structures. Interpreters are responsible for conveying not only the narrative, but also the emotional content and affect of any given situation. Unlike the other interlocutors, they are not active participants and therefore cannot respond or have a visible reaction to what is being said. As a result interpreters can experience vicarious trauma, which causes direct, but perhaps unrecognised emotional impact.

The paper discusses the benefits of supervision for interpreters. The main focus is on the 'restorative' function of supervision, which provides the supervisee with an opportunity to talk about their own emotional responses to interpreting situations and reflect on the effect the work has on them as individuals. These reflections can help supervisees recognise symptoms of stress and burnout, along with possible triggers which may otherwise go unrecognised. Such reflections can inform what assignments supervisees undertake and enable the supervisee to develop strategies for dealing with work related stress and trauma.

Interpreters and vicarious trauma: Stress and coping strategies by Karen Bontempo and DR Valerie van Loggerenberg (Australia)

The impact of critical incidents on professionals, and the fallout from working in traumatic environments and with victims of trauma, is a well-researched phenomenon in organizational psychology. A growing body of literature acknowledges the same potential for psychological distress and vicarious traumatisation of interpreters, in their role as secondary witnesses to stories of tragedy, grief, loss, damage and suffering (Dean and Pollard, 2001; Corsellis, 2002; Harvey, 2003; Valero-Garces, 2005). Interpreting is an intrinsically stressful occupation (Kurz, 2003), and although performance can be enhanced to an extent by acceptable levels of stress, a lack of coping strategies to deal with the management of work and personal stressors, or exposure to sustained, or excessive stress in the workplace, can lead to compassion fatigue, vicarious traumatisation, and job burnout. This presentation will discuss features of interpreting assignments that present emotionally difficult aspects and will examine the cumulative impact of sustained stress and negative coping strategies on interpreters. Further, a range of positive coping strategies that could be employed to deal with some of the intrapersonal demands of the interpreting profession, particularly when working in traumatic settings, will be outlined.


Dilemma Workshop lead by Lynette Reep (USA)

This workshop is based on interpreting dilemmas (experienced as either an interpreter or a consumer) submitted by delegates. During the pre-conference reading week delegates have the opportunity to submit dilemmas. In theme one, 10 will be selected and voted on. The most popular will discussed during theme two.