Direct Learn home | Online conferencing home | Contact us



Theme One: Rights, charity and control
February 9th - 10th 2011

Keynote presentation: We are familiar with the group but what about the rights? Deaf people and multicultural citizenship

Steve Emery
Advocate and Interpreter: friends or foes? Jeff Brattan-Wilson
Nothing to hide? Power, transparency and trust between the BSL/English interpreter and the Deaf client - looking at issues relating to the power dynamic Jen Dodds
A Deaf perspective on what does and does not make a good hearing citizen Liz Scully
Not a Charity Case: A discussion on the use of Western assistance in the development of the interpreting profession in India Jennifer Smith and Arun C. Rao
Partnership of academia, Deaf communities, and NGOs in Deaf empowerment and development Goedele De Clerck and Sam Lutalo-Kiingi
The role of foreign aid in empowering the Deaf in Africa, a case study in Ethiopia
Pawlos Kassu
'Have we spelt Sarah-Anne's name right?': accessing a workplace community of practice Jules Dickinson and Anne Darby
Theme Two: Communication, Education and the Future
February 11th - 12th 2011
Keynote presentation: The People of the Eye: Deaf ethnicity and ancestry Harlan Lane
Identifying specific language impairment in British Sign Language: Implications for theory and Practice Kathryn Mason
Happy Campers: The ins and outs of interpreting at summer camps in the US Richard Brumberg
Re-visiting 'Role': Arguing for a multi-dimensional analysis of interpreter behaviour

Peter Llewellyn-Jones and Robert G. Lee

Sign Language Interpreters and Education: a prickly mix? Andy Owen
"Please Sir, can I have some more?" A case study of performance management of educational interpreters in Australia Karen Bontempo and
Bethel Hutchinson
“It was difficult to manage the communication”: Testing the feasibility of video remote signed language interpreting in courts in NSW, Australia Jemina Napier and Marcel Leneham
On the origins of theory of mind: Conversational input and belief attribution in deaf and hearing infants Gary Morgan
Other online sessions (throughout the conference)
General Discussion area
Social area
Live chat
Resource/announcement area


The People of the Eye: Deaf Ethnicity and Ancestry by Harlan Lane

Are Deaf people who sign American Sign Language (ASL) an ethnic group? The People of the Eye paper brings Deaf Studies, History, Cultural Anthropology, Genetics, Sociology, and Disability Studies to bear as it compares the values, customs and social organization of the Deaf World to those in ethnic groups. The common representation of ASL signers as a disability group is disputed and many other challenges to Deaf ethnicity are examined. The paper reveals that Deaf people's preference to marry other Deaf people led to the creation of Deaf clans in early America and thus to shared ancestry; most ASL signers are born into the Deaf World and many are kin. The paper cites some of the potential advantages of recognizing Deaf ethnicity.

Deaf People and Minority Group Rights by Steve Emery

Citizenship is a fluid notion, ebbing and flowing depending on the state and nature of society, the resources available to its citizens, and its State ideology. While times have moved on since the writings of T. H. Marshall, a key citizenship theorist in the 1950’s who imagined near-(but not total) equality in liberal society at times of social plenty, the concept has continued to be lauded for its implicit progressive nature. That should normally be good news to Deaf people who desire an ‘equal’ relationship in society in connection to all matters legal, political or social.

In a current climate of austerity measures in liberal democracies, it appears that there are likely to be struggles in promoting social cohesion, with minority and oppressed groups bearing the brunt of cost cutting. The question of the extent of the quality of citizenship suddenly becomes tied into the availability of resources, either private or public. For as long as there is ‘wealth’, it seemed that liberal society could gradually afford to include more of its formerly excluded citizens through democratic deliberation. The individual human rights of Deaf children and adults were continually being recognised as universal and natural.

In this paper I will suggest that the changing economic climate will leave open spaces that challenge individual liberal notions of Deaf citizenship. Concepts of social citizenship along class lines or of minority group rights can begin to emerge. Group rights can shift social policy towards envisioning Deaf citizens as part of a multicultural citizenship, but there may have to be a conceding that individual rights of Deaf people have their limitations.

Nothing to hide? Power, transparency and trust between the British Sign Language/English interpreter and the Deaf client - looking at issues relating to the power dynamic by Jen Dodds

This paper looks at how, traditionally, the Deaf community is an oppressed group, while BSL/English interpreters, conversely, are members of the group of people who actually oppress them. The power dynamic between the BSL/English interpreter and the Deaf person is therefore affected, leading to issues which may not always be obvious or understood by either party.

How can power be shifted back to the Deaf person, and how can trust be built between BSL/English interpreters and the Deaf community? It is hoped that this paper will encourage participants to think about these issues and partake in a good, lively discussion.

Advocate and Interpreter: friends or foes? by Jeff Brattan-Wilson

This presentation will commence with a definition of advocacy, before examination of how an advocate and an interpreter can work simultaneously.

At times, some interpreters face reservations on how to work with an advocate. The reason for this is that frequently the interpreter will be multi-tasking (cultural mediation, empowering the Deaf client; in a nut shell, the interpreter often having to fight the Deaf person's corner).

Some interpreters welcome the presence of an advocate and feel much more at ease in the knowledge that they can focus on their primary role, which is to provide a translation and cultural mediation service.

This presentation will exam the reluctance of those interpreters who feel that they cannot release the additional responsibility that the advocate adopts. There are many reasons that this scenario will occur and this presentation will investigate these. The dynamics and success of the advocate's performance will largely depend on the co-operation of the interpreter and this will be explored in more depth.

This presenter will also share some real life case studies, which will be followed by a post-mortem of the events raised. This will be followed by the opportunity to engage in dialogue with the presenter, regarding the results of the analysis.

The presenter will also share some advice and recommendations on how to work with an advocate. Discussions will also be held regarding, 'identifying' the possible need of an advocates involvement. Sourcing an advocacy service will also be raised within the presentation.

Not a Charity Case: A discussion on the use of Western assistance in the development of the interpreting profession in India by Jennifer Smith & Arun C. Rao

From a Western perspective we cite training, professional bodies, standards, registration and Codes of Ethics as the lynchpins of the interpreting profession. These are important benchmarks to aim for in a still emerging profession. Previously western views have been imposed on the Deaf community in India with some organisations for the Deaf only using American Sign Language (ASL) for example.

Some countries may not yet be at the stage where these developments can be put in place. In the modern context, the work of international development should not be to bring the systems of countries in line with our own but to work within their context to develop the internal capacity so long-term solutions may be found.

Collaboration is a more useful term than 'aid' or 'charity' which tends to be too prescriptive. This discussion will draw on the experience of Jennifer and Arun in working together to create solutions for India and its interpreting profession. They will discuss the problems they had, the eventual solutions that were found and the future of India's interpreting profession.

Partnership of academia, Deaf communities, and NGOs in Deaf empowerment and development by Goedele A. M. De Clerck and Sam Lutalo-Kiingi

In Deaf Studies, deaf education, and sign language research there is increased attention for research ethics, the involvement of Deaf communities in all stages of the research process, and solution-oriented and applied research that contributes to Deaf community development. There is also increased human rights and "nothing about us without us" awareness among NGOs who are actively working on issues of Deaf community development. It is only through adequate funding and long-term contextualized engagement that Deaf communities can be actively involved in ensuring their well-being and the flourishing of their cultural identities and languages.

However, although both the academic world and the world of non-governmental organizations are oriented towards deaf empowerment, they are still too often "worlds apart". Researchers could benefit from collaboration with NGOs for the application of their research findings - NGOs could benefit from academic resources for capacity building.

Research studies are noticing increasing separation between "educated" and "uneducated" deaf people, cultural constructions that are often related to western views, sometimes also to western sign languages that were imported in education programs founded by missionaries and/or NGOs.

In this workshop we would like to discuss how NGOs, deaf communities, and academic scholars and research centres can work together in contributing towards deaf empowerment in developing countries. How can this collaboration be a mutual exchange of knowledge? How can national and local sign languages, deaf cultural traditions and structures, deaf experience and knowledge be included in programs? How can this exchange of knowledge also be supportive to deaf people's life trajectories and to solving (structural) problems? We would also like to collect examples of good practices of partnership between NGOs, deaf communities, and academic programs.

Furthermore, we would like to consider how funded projects can be of value in bringing academia and NGOs in Deaf communities together to consider opportunities for increased employment and training among deaf communities. Access to employment and education is crucial for Deaf people in order to maximize opportunities and bring the essential services to Deaf people, therefore improving quality of life.

Goedele De Clerck and Sam Lutalo-Kiingi have been collaborating on projects related to deaf community empowerment and development in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Role of Foreign Aid in Empowering the Deaf in Africa, a Case Study Ethiopia by Pawlos kassu Abebe

It is an irrefutable fact that foreign donors have played and are still playing a significant role in empowering Africans economically, educationally and politically. The Deaf community is not an exception. In fact, it will not be an overstatement to state that in countries like Ethiopia foreigners played more roles in empowering the Deaf than the government. This paper discussed the contribution of foreign aids in empowering Deaf Africans in major aspects of their lives such as: education, language, culture, health, and economy using Ethiopia as a case study. The paper also assessed the negative sides of the aid and points the way forward.

A Deaf Perspective on What Does and Does Not Make a Good Hearing Citizen by Liz Scully

Of the myriad of hearing people that members of the Deaf community meet on a daily basis, some are described as having successfully adjusted to interacting with someone who is Deaf. This exploratory study collected information directly from Deaf people to attain their understanding of what constitutes sociocultural adjustments to Deaf ways by hearing people.

Previous research exploring interaction in general between Deaf and hearing people is difficult to find since the work of Nash and Nash (1981). Studies have investigated the attitudes of Deaf people specifically toward public services (Kyle et al 2005), access to education (Foster and Walter 1992; Komesaroff 2005) and workplace environments (Young et al 2000; Punch et al 2007). Sign language interpretation, as performed by hearing people, has also been explored to gather feedback from Deaf consumers as to their perceived level of satisfaction (Napier and Barker 2004; Marschark et al 2005).

Using a different strategy, this current study looks at good hearing citizenship in the Deaf world as revealed through the sign choices used to describe hearing people. Focus groups were held with Deaf adult users of American Sign Language, ranging in ages from 19 to 70 years old, in two central Canadian cities. Participants discussed the qualities and knowledge of hearing people that manifest success or failure in adjusting to interactions with Deaf people. Known positive adjectives applied to hearing people were presented for discussion of their use and meaning. Additional lexical items put forth by participants were also recorded.

The 50 signs gathered were analyzed by investigating the metaphoric properties of ASL (Taub 2001, Wilcox 2004). Exploration into the semantics of sign choices describing certain sub-groups (Kleinfeld & Warner 1995) was also employed. Theories from the field of intercultural studies were reviewed to determine their application in identifying the characteristics and knowledge that lead to sociocultural adjustment. The result was a connection between Deaf-hearing encounters and cross-cultural communication research.

This paper summarizes the characteristics, skills and knowledge that Deaf people value in hearing people. This information will be useful to hearing people who live with or work along side Deaf people and those who train them to do so.

Happy Campers: The ins and outs of interpreting at summer camps in the US by Richard Brumberg

A phenomenon that is prevalent in the United States is summer camp. The American Camping Association, the leading “community of camp professionals” and an accrediting entity for “over 2,400 camps” has stated that their mission is to “enrich[..] the lives of children, youth and adults through the camping experience”. (American Camping Association, 2010) There are day camps (which transport the campers to and from camp) and sleep-away camps (where the campers stay overnight on the campgrounds). Some of these camps cater to a specialty (camp for the arts, sports camp, literacy camp); some are general camps. The age of the campers can be as young as 3 or 4 (day camps) all the way to 16 or 17 years old. Camps can last for just a
week or for eight weeks. For many kids, Deaf or hearing, camp is the first time they have been away from home for an extended period of time. If there are Deaf and hearing participants (campers and/or staff), there is the likelihood of interpreters added to the camp community. Depending on the approach, the interpreter can be seen as a wonderful complement to the atmosphere or a hinderance to the camp experience. How
can the interpreter use his/her the primary role of facilitating communication as a means to foster the camp's overall mission and goals? This paper will present varying viewpoints (hearing and Deaf camp counselors, administrators, Deaf campers and working interpreters) about the interpreted camp experience, the interpreter's role and suggestions for the working interpreter to help develop independent and “happy campers”.

Re-visiting 'Role': Arguing for a multi-dimensional analysis of Interpreter behaviour by Peter Llewellyn-Jones and Robert G. Lee

The concept of ‘role of interpreter’ as a discrete rigid construct has been used historically in ways that actually inhibit (rather than facilitate) interaction amongst participants. For example, interpreters will often speak of ‘stepping out of role’ to rationalise behaviours which, we would argue, are an integral part of the remit of the interpreter (for example in seeking clarification from one or more of the interactants). More recently, some researchers (e.g. Wadensjö, Roy, Metzger, among others) have challenged these notions and called for an analysis of role that crucially recognises the presence of the interpreter.

We have argued previously (Llewellyn-Jones and Lee 2009) that there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach to how an interpreter interacts in a given situation. On the other hand, we would not claim that interpreter behaviours are not entirely unconstrained; there are still ways of talking about appropriate vs. inappropriate behaviours without resorting to a monolithic, prescriptive concept of ‘role’. It is time to rethink the entire concept of role and look more towards approach that involves interpreters making informed decisions about how they are present in a given interaction. The paper will present aspects of a new paradigm that defines role not in a static way, but in a dynamic way that requires interpreters make active choices about managing the myriad factors that aid successful interactions.

'Have we spelt Sarah-Anne's name right?': Accessing a workplace Community of Practice by Jules Dickinson and Anne Darby

Significant changes in the employment profile of deaf people over the last 30 years have led to their increased presence in the modern workforce. Signed language interpreters (SLIs) are now working in a domain which presents a number of considerable challenges, particularly in highly complex, multi-party events such as team meetings. Team meetings can be viewed as a workplace Community of Practice, with members working towards a common goal or purpose, and having a shared repertoire which can consist of small talk, humour, jargon and established discourse norms. These crucial elements of discourse can enable employees to establish and maintain workplace relationships, reinforce collegiality, and negotiate interpersonal relationships, as well as allowing shifts between business talk and social interaction. Drawing on data from an ethnographic study of signed language interpreting, this paper will examine an example of interpreted discourse from a workplace Community of Practice, and will highlight the vital role the SLI can play this type of interaction. Combining the perspective of an SLI and an interpreting service user, suggestions will be made for enhancing the experience of all primary parties in the interpreted event.

Sign Language Interpreters and Education. A prickly mix? by Andy Owen

Precious few qualified Sign Language Interpreters work in the British education system. The most common professionals who support d/Deaf students at all levels of education are ‘Communication Support Workers’ (CSWs). This unsung throng of dedicated specialists work within a team of teachers, Teachers of the Deaf, audiologists, speech and language therapists, d/Deaf instructors and others. However, there are those who suggest that the role of the CSW is declining, will be phased out over time, and that qualified interpreters will fill the vacuum and take their place in education. Is this the case, or are CSWs at last taking their proper place as recognised professionals? If the role of CSW is being phased out, why is there no significant increase in the numbers of qualified interpreters passing through the school gates? What is the mindset of the few qualified interpreters who do work in education? We may also ask the questions; what is the mindset of the CSW and, is there such a person as a ‘career CSW’? This paper will explore all these issues, seek to get behind the labels of the CSWs and Interpreters who work in education, and address the misapprehensions of those who view from a distance.

On the origins of theory of mind: Conversational input and belief attribution in deaf and hearing infants by Gary Morgan

Recent research has shown that infants as young as 13 months display evidence of theory-of-mind abilities in nonverbal violation-of-expectation tasks. These findings support the position that attribution of false beliefs is present early in development. However, the preconditions for false belief attribution in infants have not been documented. This study investigated the role of conversational input in children’s ability to track the false beliefs of a cartoon character in computerized theory of mind tasks. In Experiment 1, we compared 16 to 26-month-olds who were either hearing or deaf with hearing parents. The results show that hearing children, but not deaf children, accurately tracked the search behavior of a character with a false belief.

Experiment 2 involved a comparison of the mental state language used in conversations with deaf infants by hearing and deaf mothers. Hearing mothers of deaf children used far less mental state language and engaged in far less connected language than did mothers of same age hearing children. These findings support the position that access to at least a minimum of mental state talk embedded in connected interaction contributes decisively to reading the intentions of others – even in very early human development.

"Please Sir, can I have some more?" A case study of performance management of educational interpreters in Australia by Karen Bontempo and Bethel Hutchinson

Research regarding the efficacy of an interpreted education for deaf students has suggested that the practice is fraught with challenges, even when students are provided with highly skilled interpreters. This could be because interpreters only provide the 'illusion' of access in a mainstream setting and in the educational process at times (Winston, 2004); or it may be because many education systems are simply not "interpreter-ready" (Patrie & Taylor, 2008), amongst other factors. In Australia, the vast majority of the practitioners working in education settings around the nation are not certified interpreters; typically receive supervision from personnel ill-equipped to understand and support their role; do not undertake regular skills assessment and performance management activities; and are not provided with tailored training and professional development opportunities relevant to their practice as educational interpreters. This is not to suggest that educational interpreters themselves have not pleaded for more appropriate support structures and working conditions commensurate with the complexity of their job, or that advocates in the Deaf community, deaf students, their families, and educators working with deaf students, have not flagged concerns about the problems inherent in many educational interpreting practices.

A worrying future exists in terms of continuing a widespread approach to a mediated education for deaf children without more quality assurance measures in the educational interpreting field. This paper will report on the innovative process of diagnostic skills analysis and performance management of a cohort of educational interpreters implemented by one Australian secondary school for deaf students. The process of performance evaluation, including observation of interpreted communication in authentic classroom contexts; skills gap analyses; modelling and mentoring; tailoring professional development; and creating professional learning plans for educational interpreters will be discussed. The paper will also elaborate on the steps taken in moving the cohort of educational interpreters towards becoming reflective and reflexive practitioners, with the ultimate aim of more effective classroom communication and improved future outcomes for deaf students accessing an interpreted education.

Identifying specific language impairment in British Sign Language: Implications for theory and Practice by Kathryn Mason

The current study presents novel research on specific language impairments in deaf children who use British Sign Language (BSL) as their main language. In phase 1 of our study, a questionnaire was sent to more than 60 specialist deaf schools and units for deaf children in the UK regarding children aged between 7 and 14 years old who had adequate exposure to sign language, but were acquiring it more slowly than expected in comparison to their peers. Teachers of the deaf and speech and language therapists responded with around 50 children being referred to the project.

In phase 2, a group of deaf children suspected of having specific language impairment (SLI) were identified. They were followed up with a battery of tests including non-verbal IQ and motor skills and sign language assessments. Three standardised tests of BSL were administered: the BSL Receptive Skills test (a picture pointing task that tests the comprehension of a range of grammatical structures) and the BSL Productive Skills test (a story telling task that tests narrative content and structure, and productive grammar). In addition, we used a newly-standardised non-sign repetition test to assess children's BSL phonology skills, as hearing children with SLI are typically poor at repeating nonsense words.

New assessments were also created specifically for the study. These consisted of a signed sentence repetition test, BSL vocabulary test and a 'definitions' test whereby children were required to give the definition of a series of signs. We present results for all of these measures and explore in more depth the markers of SLI in signing children Despite the challenges of identifying language impairments in a population where issues of language delay have to be disentangled from language impairment, it is possible to profile signed language impairments. Teachers of the deaf are able to accurately identify children with sign language impairments, and this informal diagnosis can be successfully followed up using standardised language assessments

“It was difficult to manage the communication”: Testing the feasibility of video remote signed language interpreting in courts in NSW, Australia by Jemina Napier and Marcel Leneham

The term ‘video remote interpreting’ (VRI) refers to the specialist process of interpreting via video technology, where at least one of the participants is in a different location. VRI technology impacts on the communication process and sign language interpreting in several ways, but it has still been identified as a possible effective solution to providing increased access to sign language interpreters, especially for those in regional or rural areas. The use of VRI is the way of the future, so it is imperative that research is conducted to test its feasibility in different settings.

Until this project was conducted in 2010, no research had been conducted on the effectiveness of sign language interpreting services provided through video remote facilities in court. Given the high stakes involved in court proceedings, it is important to analyse the effectiveness of VRI in this context.

This paper will report on a research project commissioned by the NSW Department of Justice and Attorney General, with the goal to inform policy about the provision of sign language interpreters in court remotely via video. Remote access to sign language interpreting was tested across five key venues and six scenarios involving deaf people and sign language interpreters. The aim of the project was to assess the impact of using video remote facilities on the quality of the interpretations when interpreters or deaf people are in different locations, and the stakeholder perceptions of their experience in the different scenarios. Results showed that video remote sign language interpreting in the court could be effective if either the deaf people or interpreters were in different locations, but only under certain conditions, and would not be recommended for all types of court cases. Findings from the study will be reported, along with the recommendations that were made to the NSW Department of Justice and Attorney General. Suggestions for future research and education of interpreters will also be given to ensure best practice in using VRI to facilitate communication in court.