Title: Not Quite Utopia. Insights on interpreting from Deaf leaders on three continents
Authors: Bontempo, Karen ×
Haug, Tobias
Leeson, Lorraine
Napier, Jemina
Nicodemus, Brenda
van den Bogaerde, Beppie
Vermeerbergen, Myriam #
Issue Date: 30-Aug-2014
Conference: Australian Sign Language Interpreters’ Association National Conference location:Perth, Australia date:29-31 August 2014
Abstract: The increased participation of Deaf leaders in political, corporate, academic and other professional domains, has led to changes and shifts in the interpreting profession and in how interpreters work. This movement has resulted in the ‘Deaf professional-designated interpreter’ paradigm gaining traction, and an anecdotally observed preference by many Deaf leaders to select interpreters they have a relationship of trust with, and whom they consider represent them well when working into a spoken language (i.e. voicing). This paper presents preliminary findings from an innovative cross-linguistic international study that sought to investigate the perceptions of Deaf leaders on questions of interpreter quality and interpretation asymmetry; namely the presumption that interpreters are stronger working into their signed language than their spoken language.

Sixteen Deaf leaders with extensive experience of working with interpreters were recruited. They hailed from Australia, Belgium, England, Ireland, the Netherlands, Scotland, Switzerland, and the United States. They were interviewed by a team of interpreting researchers regarding their experiences, wishes and desires when working with interpreters who participate in the co-construction and representation of their professional identities in the hearing world. Their positions of significance as leaders revealed interesting contributions to the conversation around interpreter quality. Points of discussion included the linguistic and cultural competency of interpreters, balanced bilingualism, academic training, gendered constructions of identity, the performance of expertise and the relationships that hold between interpreting and social justice for Deaf communities.

This original research provides a rare insight into the collaboration, mentoring and support that Deaf leaders offer their preferred interpreters as they develop their practice, as well as considering the obstacles that sub-optimal interpreting place in the way of attempts to secure full participation and citizenship. We also evaluate the trade-offs that Deaf leaders make when working with interpreters - trade offs that (as they say) they have the standing to implement, but which “grassroots” Deaf community members infrequently have the necessary knowledge or power to manage and control. In considering these new research findings, we ask how, if we are indeed a profession on the move, can we improve the provision of quality interpreting services in the field, and become responsible, responsive partners to Deaf communities as they negotiate intercultural interpreted spaces.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Multimodality, Interaction and Discourse, Campus Sint-Andries Antwerp
Linguistics Research Unit - miscellaneous
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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