Bridging the Gap: Heriot-Watt ventures down south

Jemina Napier, Manako Yabe, Suji Sahasrabude & Karolien Gebruers

See here for BSL version: https://youtu.be/gFdCJbsFZmc

This v/blogpost is about the experiences of several members of the SIGNS@HWU team in the Department of Languages & Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University, who travelled down south from Edinburgh in Scotland to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in Preston, England to attend the 7th Bridging the Gap (BtG) conference on Saturday 25th November 2023. This is a regular conference that used to be held almost every year, but this was the first one since the Covid lockdowns, with the last one being held in Cardiff in 2019.

The aim of the BtG conferences is to bring researchers and deaf community members together to identify research priorities, share what universities are working on and to discuss how universities can best collaborate with deaf community organisations and people to advance research.

There were approximately 30 people in attendance, from a range of universities including UCLan, Heriot-Watt University, York St John, Birmingham, Edinburgh; and deaf community and sign language related organisations, such as the British Deaf Association (BDA), Black Deaf UK (BDUK), the Interpreters of Colour Network (IOCN) and the Association of British Sign Language Tutors and Assessors (ABSLTA).

It was a one-day conference with a variety of different presenters and topics. To begin, Kibra Taye and Rita Bagga talked about migrating to the UK from Ethiopian and Indian/Kenyan heritages respectively, what it was like growing up deaf and also part of another marginalised group with the lack of Asian role models and how they both became active in the deaf community advocating and lobbying for deaf rights. They stressed that there is a lack of cultural understanding in the UK BSL community about multilingualism and diversity, and that the BDA has an important role to play in fostering deaf youth to become role models for others. They asked questions about what the audience would like to see from research and suggested that there is a need for more intersectional research – especially on experiences and identities of deaf refugees and migrants. One example is the Mobile Deaf project at Heriot-Watt University, which had one workstream on experiences of deaf migrants in London who migrated either for work or marriage.

Sylvia Simmonds, who is a BSL advocate, talked about the importance of bridging trust between researchers and deaf community members. She reflected on the benefits of having deaf parents as role models, which led her to develop the confidence to advocate for others. Sylvia noted that it is critical to empower deaf community members by making connections between BSL, language, community and culture in conducting research.

Tom Lichy, the head of policy at the BDA, gave an overview of the BDA research forum, which involves 10 universities from across the UK. He asked the audience to review how they would invest their money in research to support potential research ideas.

Dr Nick Palfreyman from the iSLanDS Institute at UCLan discussed the DeafCAN project: Deaf lives and Sign Languages in the Caribbean (Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica), and how they have taken steps to involve local deaf researchers in order to examine the endangerment of sign languages.

Dr Nicola Nunn, the organiser of this BtG conference at UCLAN then led a review of BtG conferences 1-6: The first was in 2014 at UCLAn (1), followed by York St John (2), Manchester (3), Brighton (4), Heriot-Watt (5) and Cardiff (6), then back at UCLAN for (7). There was an obvious hiatus for 3 years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Nicola gave an overview of achievements from each conference, with video contributions from Dr Dai O’Brien (York St John) and Dr John Walker (Sussex, formerly Brighton) and highlighted the benefits of hosting the conference: making connections, community and academic partnerships, bringing people together, focusing on deaf people’s rights, and spotlighting the use of BSL. Prof Jemina Napier gave an update on achievements since Heriot-Watt hosted the BtG conference in 2018:

  • Memorandum of Understanding with BDA to collaborate on research
  • Co-designed bid with BDA on deaf community belonging (unsuccessful)
  • BDA & other key organisations involved in many project advisory groups
  • Memorandum of Understanding with Edinburgh based deaf charity Deaf Action for teaching and reserch
  • Partnership with Deaf Action & many other UK organisations for student service learning projects, 3rd & 4th year placements
  • Research collaborations with the Association of Sign Language Interpreters UK and BSL Broadcasting Trust
  • Joint Edinburgh-based universities Memorandum of Understanding (Heriot-Watt, University of Edinburgh, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh Napier University) to collaborate and exchange information on sign language and deaf studies teaching and research, which led to reinvigoration of the EdSign Lecture Series.
  • Creation of a 4* impact case study in the REF2021 submission
  • Strategy away day held in May 2023 with BDA, Deaf Action, National Register of Communication Professionals with Deaf People (NRCPD), Black Deaf UK, ASLI and IOCN to explore research priorities, which has led to the development of a research engagement plan.
  • Given input to Scottish Government national BSL plan consultations
  • In 2023 first deaf academic in the UK to be promoted to full Professor: Prof Annelies Kusters

In addition to the various presentations, there were also a series of workshops to discuss making connections between community and research. Dr Manako Yabe (Deaf postdoctoral Research Associate), Sujit Sahasrabudhe (Deaf research assistant & BSL tutor) and Karolien Gebruers (PhD student) were part of the Heriot-Watt delegation that attended the BtG conference, and share their reflections on the conference and the workshops:

Manako: One of the things discussed was what sign to use for ‘Bridging’ the Gap. Some suggested using the sign for BRIDGE, others suggested CONNECTING TWO BRIDGES between communities and universities, and I suggested BRIDGING EQUALITY between communities and universities. The reason for this is because deaf communities are a rich source of lived experiences and stories to share, but these stories are often invisible to majority society. Universities have developed methodologies and evidence-based practices but it can be challenging to collect deaf community stories. Both universities and deaf communities have their own strengths and weaknesses, but by connecting both universities and communities we can be more powerful in bridging equality. The gap exists not only in the UK, but also the USA, Japan (where I am from) and Europe. So bridging the gap between universities and deaf communities is a global issue. What do you think should be the sign for “Bridging the Gap”?

Sujit: As Jemina noted, after the main speakers of the conference, after lunch there were workshops to discuss three different topics. Attendees moved between the different workshops to discuss ideas for research projects; to identify research gaps; concerns for the future and how research can help to improve things for the deaf community. We had a lot of interesting discussion. After 20 minutes or so we moved to the next workshop. The facilitators created lists of the points of discussion. I made the point to Nicola, the BtG7 organiser, that it would be good to share those lists across UK universities so that we can take the suggestions into account in our own research, for example at Heriot-Watt. The audience agreed with this idea. So hopefully this information will be shared, which could generate more discussions among the universities about seeking funding for projects and on-going research. Attending the BtG conference was a really positive experience.

Karolien: It was the first time I had been to a BtG conference. I am not from the UK, I am from Belgium, so it was really interesting to go along and see who was there, who the organisational representatives were, who attended from the community and how the conference was structured. It was helpful for me to understand more about the UK context. It was also useful for me to be able to compare the UK and Belgian contexts. Despite the fact that the laws are different in each country, I could see that the experiences of deaf communities in each country are very similar. Another thing I found beneficial from attending BtG was to think about how we could set up a version of this conference in Belgium because we have never had anything like this before. So, I will talk to different people about the possibility of setting up a BtG conference in Belgium as I think it will be a really good way to bring together universities, researchers and deaf community members to foster more interaction and collaboration. Overall it was a really interesting conference.

We would really recommend attending the next BtG conference!

Career networking opportunities for LINCS students

This week, LINCS students on the MSc Interpreting programmes will have 3 fantastic opportunities to expand their professional horizons:

1. The annual event ‘Starting Work as Translator or Interpreter’ organised by our Career Liaison Officer for LINCS, Fanny Chouc. This is a mix of formal online sessions, where professionals give talks on their own experience and offer insights to students, and an informal ‘speed networking’ session on campus, where students can chat to professionals individually to find out more about each profession. Every year, both students and professionals benefit from this sharing of experience.

More info: https://twitter.com/HW_LifeinLINCS/status/1748277038497022379

2. Visit by Ross Noble, from the EU’s Directorate General for Interpreting (SCIC). As a former Heriot-Watt student who is now enjoying a career in conference interpreting for the EU in Brussels, Ross is ideally placed to give students guidance on their interpreting skills and potential career development. He will attend classes and offer his own insights on the skills students are learning, and will also lead a practice class and a mini-conference for interpreting practice.

More info: https://scilt.org.uk/Article/tabid/1092/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/6946/Ross-Noble.aspx

3. Visit by Beatrice Blackett-Espinosa from the AIIC (Association Internationale des Interprètes de Conférence). AIIC is the most prestigious international professional body for conference interpreters, and they play a key role in shaping the profession. Beatrice will give a short talk followed by a Q&A session for students to learn about the role of professional bodies like the AIIC in the interpreting profession.

More info: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/beatrice-blackett-espinosa-01b671a

Students are very lucky to have the opportunity to network with and learn from all of these experienced professionals – many thanks to Fanny Chouc and Jose-Mari Conde for organising these events!

ToFIE – Tools for Inclusive Education

The “Tools for Inclusive Education” project (Erasmus+ 2020-2022) aims at providing educators with knowledge and skills in the fields of specific learning disorders, promote their professional development and supply them with tools they can apply in their daily work. A special interest lies in higher education students not studying in their first language.

Aligned with the diverse educational policies and training needs in the partner countries (Finland, UK, Spain, Belgium, Greece and Romania) the project developed four Intellectual Outputs which can be found here: https://tofie.eu/products/

The most important product is a toolkit for educators in the form of a handbook, consisting of practical resources and tools to support educators across Europe and beyond. The tools can be used with cases of students with perception, attention and concentration difficulties, such as attention deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or Linguistic difficulties.

The materials are aimed at Higher Education (HE) teachers who wish to refresh their pedagogical skills and apply inclusive methods of teaching and guidance. Even though the focus is on methods that support equal opportunities of learning for students with learning disorders, such as e.g. dyslexia, dyscalculia or ADHD, the methods are easily applicable to all HE students.

The handbook is available in English, Finnish, French, Greek, Romanian, and Spanish.

Students in higher education (HE) bring versatile skills and competencies gained during their prior studies and work. For students with Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) challenges may rise in their adaptation process to a new HE environment and culture, especially if studying in a foreign language. You could listen to fellow HE students sharing their stories here:

https://video.laurea.fi/media/Tools+for+inclusive+education+-+students+sharing+their+storiesA+Milli/0_dljbfxwd

Students studying in a second language benefit from the project’s activities, as the use of the project tools supports their studies and integration into the higher education community.

Author: Chrissa Koundouraki.

Chrissa is currently undertaking her PhD in Languages and Intercultural Studies, while she already is a Heriot Watt alumna, with an MSc in European Studies with Translation Studies. She was part of the team that worked on this project and developed the learning materials.

She is the co-founder and head of education at the European Education and Learning Institute in Greece (https://eeli.edu.gr/ ), where you can find many similar projects and have access to free educational resources and platforms.

EUMASLI 2023 – Thessaloniki, Greece – 13 & 14 September 2023

At LINCS we offer a  MSc in Sign Language Interpreting – often called the EUMASLI course – the EU Master in Sign Language Interpreting in association with our partners: Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences in Germany and Humak University of Applied Sciences in Finland.

We have just finished our fourth iteration of this course to date – EUMASLI 4 and are planning our fifth in earnest with our partners.

At the end of each EUMASLI course, each cohort presents on their dissertation topics at our EUMASLI colloquium. This was held in Thessaloniki in September 2023 was attended by all our postgraduate students who presented on their varied dissertation topics and had the opportunity to receive feedback and questions from an audience of 100 people. It was the first time ever in the two and a half years that all the students were together in the same place.

The first day began with David Philips shedding light on the challenges faced by queer interpreters in his presentation, “We Have To Be Visible.” He eloquently articulated the importance of managing perceptions in their line of work.

Following this, Jill Henshaw delved into the inner turmoil experienced by interpreters in her talk, “The Impact of Imposter Syndrome on Decision Making by British Sign Language/English Interpreters.” She highlighted the psychological struggles they face, questioning their own competence.

The morning session transitioned seamlessly into discussions of ethics. Sarah Caminada’s presentation on “Principled Ethical Reasoning in the Field of Sign Language Interpreting” explored the intricate ethical landscape interpreters navigate daily. Marjo-Leea Alapuranen then examined innovative ways of integrating visual aids into remote educational sign language interpretation, making learning more accessible.

The afternoon session brought a different perspective, focusing on the experiences of deaf students. Dina Zander-Tabbert’s presentation, “Educational Interpreting from Deaf Students’ Perspective,” provided valuable insights into the challenges faced by students in educational settings. Julia Ruf’s talk, “Systematic Promotion of Modality Specific Translation and Interpretation into German Sign Language in L2/M2,” explored the promotion of translation and interpretation into German Sign Language.

Stephanie Linder’s engaging discussion on “Analysing the Understandability of News ‘with’ and ‘in’ Sign Language” emphasized the importance of clear communication in news delivery. Helen Foulkes then offered a comprehensive analysis of extralinguistic factors impacting BSL output for S4C programs in her presentation.

On the 14th of September, Emma Loveland delved into the moral implications of ethical decision-making in her presentation, “Moral Implementations: Courage, Cooperation, and Comfort Implications for ethical decision making among sign language interpreters.” Following this, Cornelia Rosenkranz explored how deaf professionals adapt and manage the interpreting process effectively.

Nives Gotovac shared insights into the profile of employed Croatian sign language interpreters in her presentation. Romy O’Callaghan’s research, “Multilingualism, Languaging, and Sign Language Interpreting,” investigated the influence of International Sign on national sign language interpreting.

Anja Saft’s presentation, “Sign Language Interpreters as Potential Researchers in Germany: Narratives of PhD Students,” showcased the aspirations of interpreters to engage in academic research. Krisztina Horváth then explored the intricacies of preparing interpreters in an institutional setting.

Delphine Thomas examined the critical issue of gender inclusivity in interpreting from French Sign Language into French. The conference concluded with Amy Cresap’s enlightening discussion on “Coordinating in Virtual Environments: Adaptations in Remote Sign Language Interpreter Teams,” offering insights into the ever-evolving world of remote interpreting.

EUMASLI Thessaloniki 2023 served as a platform for our students and their professional colleagues to share their experiences, research, and ideas, ultimately contributing to the growth and development of the field of sign language interpreting. For Robert who attended this event for the first time, he  ‘was really amazed by the quality of the presentations and the depth and breadth of the topics covered and look forward to the EUMASLI 5 colloquium already.’

For further information, check our website for further details: https://www.eumasli.eu – we will be starting EUMASLI 5 in September 2024 so keep checking our website for dates.

Robert Adam and Jemina Napier

1-Day CPD workshop: Machine Translation Post-Editing with a focus on metaphor

The Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University is offering a 1-day online training workshop on metaphor in Machine Translation Post-Editing.

28 October 2023, 9.30 am-4 pm (online)  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/machine-translation-post-editing-with-a-focus-on-metaphor-online-tickets-713603917527?aff=oddtdtcreator

11 November 2023, 9.30 am-4 pm (in-person) on our Edinburgh campus. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/machine-translation-post-editing-with-a-focus-on-metaphor-in-person-tickets-715231064367?aff=oddtdtcreator

The Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University is offering a 1-day online training workshop on metaphor in Machine Translation Post-Editing.

The workshop is free of charge as it is part of a research project funded by the CTISS to investigate how machine translation handles metaphor and develop guidelines for post editing machine translation with a focus on metaphors. For the in-person event, refreshments and lunch will be provided. Participants will be asked to complete a detailed feedback form about their learning experience to inform the research project. At the end of the workshop, participants will receive a CPD Certificate.

Ethical approval for this project was granted on 24/07/22 under ref no. 2022-3319-6604.

The event covers the following language combinations: Arabic<>English, Chinese<>English, French<>English, Spanish<>English. Proficiency in one of these combinations is required to take part in the workshop.

There are 20 spaces available on a first come first serve basis.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email.  Pre-workshop material and further information will be provided 2 weeks before the event.

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Training in post-editing is becoming increasingly popular in response to the growing industry requirements to integrate MT into the translation workflow. This workshop covers the basics of post-editing with a special focus on the intertextual element of conceptual metaphor. At the end of the course, learners should be confident in identifying MT errors and correcting them, with a better understanding of how metaphors work in the text and how to translate them effectively.  

This workshop will combine theoretical presentations with discussion and practical individual and group work activities. it will cover:

  • Introduction to MT and MTPE
  • Introduction to metaphor translation
  • Textual cohesion and coherence
  • Approaches to MT quality assessment
  • Error analysis – error categories at word, sentence and whole-text level
  • Metaphor identification and analysis in the context of MTPE

Who can attend this workshop:

  • Professional translators with a minimum of 2 years experience.
  • Prior experience in MTPE is not required

The workshop will be delivered by three experienced researchers and translation trainers.

Dr. Khadidja Merakchi is Assistant Professor of French at Heriot-Watt University. She is a fluent speaker of Arabic, French and English. She completed her PhD in popular science metaphor translation from English to Arabic at the University of Surrey in 2017. She is an experienced professional translator and interpreter, as well as a teacher in both of these fields.

Dr. Khetam Al Sharou is a Researcher in Machine Translation. Her research lies at the intersection of Translation Studies, Computer Science and Natural Language Processing, producing work with academic and industrial impact in tool development and user-experience.  She has held research and teaching positions at various universities in the UK (Imperial College, UCL, LSE, Surrey) and Syria (University of Damascus).

Ms. Juliette Rutherford is Assistant Professor in Chinese at Heriot-Watt University. She worked as an in-house translator from Mandarin Chinese, French, Spanish into English for 8 years before joining Heriot-Watt in 2019, as a teacher of Chinese-English Translation and Interpreting. Her research interests include machine translation, conceptual metaphor and pedagogy for translator training.

Celebrate International Translation Day 2023!

Saturday 30 September

Join us for an exhibition presented by the students and staff at the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies, Heriot-Watt University, in collaboration with Leith Public Library.


Exhibition dates: Saturday, 30th September to Saturday, 7th October.

Location: Leith Public Library, 28-30 Ferry Road, Edinburgh EH6 4AE

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Activities

  • 1-week exhibition of translated books
  • Discussion with an award-winning translator
  • Recommend a book to win a prize

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Activity highlights

  • A one-week exhibition featuring classic translated books from around the world that are part of the Edinburgh Library Collection, for both children and adults.
  • Join a conversation with Leri Price, an award-winning literary translator of contemporary Arabic fiction, and a PhD student at the Intercultural Research Centre at Heriot-Watt University, at 11:00-12:00, Saturday 7th October.
  • Share your love for translated books and you could win a £50 Waterstones voucher! Recommend a translated book in any language in 300 words and email it to leithtranslation@gmail.com by 4pm, 16th October. Two lucky winners will each receive a £50 Waterstones voucher to further fuel their literary pursuits.

If you have any further questions, please contact Shirley Tan (leithtranslation@gmail.com).

SILENT HARM: Empowering Deaf Women Surviving Domestic Violence Post-Covid:

An Inclusive approach to resilience & recovery in rural areas

By Jemina Napier & Lucy Clark, Heriot-Watt University

Lorraine Leeson & Lianne Quigley, Trinity College Dublin

Summary of this blogpost in BSL and ISL with subtitles and spoken English interpretation: https://youtu.be/6jEt19I1WFY

Background

This project was funded through a Royal Society of Edinburgh-Royal Irish Academy Scotland-Ireland Bilateral Network Grant and sought to empower deaf women who have experienced domestic violence by delivering training to police officers and sign language interpreters in rural areas in Scotland and Ireland in collaboration with Police Scotland, An Garda Síochána, and deaf community organisations Deaf Links (Dundee, Scotland) and the Irish Deaf Society.

The training drew on evidence and resources developed as part of a previous collaborative project (Justisigns 2) – and focused on best practices for working together.

Objectives

The objectives of the project were to:

  • continue the collaboration between the European Commission funded Justisigns 2 project Scottish and Irish partners to produce academic journal outputs from data collected through surveys of support service personnel and interpreters working with women who have experienced GBV in Scotland and Ireland and through interviews with deaf women and police officers;
  • provide ‘Train the Trainer’ workshops in Edinburgh and Dublin in order to skill up a group of police officers and interpreter educators who can continue to offer training on an on-going basis throughout each country. This will ensure the sustainability of the training and ensure capacity and capability building for future trainers.
  • deliver the training materials developed as part of the Justisigns 2 project to police officers and interpreters in two rural areas in Scotland and two rural areas in Ireland.

All of these objectives were realised and more. Originally, we had planned to first offer a 3-hour ‘train the trainer’ workshop in each country, followed by the delivery of three 3-hour training workshops in person in each country in rural areas. After the first planning session, we realised that it would be more effective to deliver the rural training first, and then to reflect on the efficacy of the training with educators who currently provide training to police officers and interpreters to see how they could draw on the training materials, and specifically a training manual (https://justisigns2.eu/training-course).

We also decided to use a masterclass model for the rural training and deliver over a whole day rather than just 3-hours to maximise the time. The training schedule was designed to bring police officers and interpreters together for sessions, as well as having separate bespoke sessions with information tailored to their needs. The final masterclass schedule and content was localised for each country.

In the end, only two masterclass workshops were delivered in each country because there were not enough participants available to attend in other rural areas, especially interpreters. There was also an issue with availability of interpreters to provide interpreting for the workshops. This highlights the issue of lack of access for deaf women living in rural areas and lack of availability of interpreters. The training was delivered in Inverness (north) and Helensburgh (west) in Scotland, and the planned workshop in Galashiels (borders) was cancelled. In Ireland, a different strategy was adopted as there was a large interest in one rural area (Donegal) from different stakeholders, so two workshops were held in the same place across two consecutive days, but one workshop planned in the Northwest was cancelled. The workshops were attended by a total of 10 police officers and 8 interpreters and 1 independent domestic abuse advisor in Scotland and a total of 53 police officers, interpreters, and representatives from social services, the local education board and sexual assault treatment unit nurses in Ireland.

The format for the ‘train the trainer’ workshops was different. In Ireland the majority of educators are based in Dublin and there was the opportunity to extend the workshop to include educators who work with other language groups. So, a 2-hour face-to-face workshop was held at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) with 9 attendees from the TCD Irish Sign Language interpreter training programme, the Garda, Irish Refugee Council, and the TCD student counselling service. In Scotland, a 2.5 hour workshop was delivered online as there was interest from police and interpreter educators from all over the UK. It was attended by 7 interpreter educators who teach in different programmes throughout the UK, and 26 police officers from Police Scotland and 1 from Greater Manchester Police. All participants were sent the training manual one-week advance and asked to review it and complete a review template form. The workshops were divided into three parts:

  1. Guided discussion and reflection:  The workshop began with a guided discussion session where participants shared their initial thoughts, questions, and insights about the training manual.
  2. Focused discussion and Reflection: Participants were divided into two groups (police/ interpreters) to discuss their understanding of the training manual and content and how it could be taught, highlighting key points, and identifying any areas of ambiguity or further exploration.
  3. Collaborative Manual Application: The groups reconvened to collectively feedback on how they think they can apply the training manual and activities in their own training, and discuss potential for interprofessional working and how can we collaborate to deliver this training.

In reviewing evaluations from the masterclass and ‘train the trainer’ workshops it can be seen that a short course form of professional development in interpreter mediated interactions concerning domestic violence can be effectively delivered in different formats to meet police and interpreter training provider needs, and also those of other stakeholders. All masterclass participants gave praise for the training, confirmed in their evaluations that they had learned a lot and were particularly pleased with having the collaborative experience so that they could see the issues from the perspective of other professionals. All participants said they would apply their new learning in their daily practice should they be presented with a domestic violence situation with a deaf woman. Many commented on the need for the training to be embedded in standard police and interpreter training, and not just as ‘top up’ professional development. The educators were similarly enthusiastic. They were impressed with the training manual and especially pleased that it would be freely available, along with the accompanying resources, to use. All the participants felt that they would be able to embed the use of the manual and resources in their own training delivery.

Outputs

The outputs from this project are as follows (as outlined in the original proposal):

  • 2 in person network meetings (one in Dublin & one in Edinburgh)
  • 2 ‘train the trainer’ workshops – one online in the UK and one in Dublin
  • 4 training workshops in rural locations (2 Ireland, 2 Scotland)
  • Completion of 1 research report based on survey of police officers and interpreters conducted as part of the Justisigns 2 project.
  • 2 journal article publications in preparation

In addition, further outputs were created:

  • A workshop was held between the Scottish project leaders, Police Scotland representatives and legal sign language interpreter experts to review the Police Scotland Domestic Abuse Questionnaire (DAQ) and how easy it was to translate into British Sign Language (BSL). This led to a revision of the 27 questions in the DAQ so that they are in plain English, making them more straight forward to translate into any language, including BSL. A briefing paper has now been put forward by the Police Scotland Domestic Abuse Coordination Unit for the official adoption of the revised DAQ to be used by all police officers when interviewing victims of domestic violence.
  • Bilingual v/blogpost in BSL and English about the new RSE-RIA project and the DAQ workshop.
  • A hybrid event on to launch a documentary on deaf women’s experiences of accessing support when reporting domestic violence that was created as part of the Justisigns 2 project and to promote the new RSE-RIA funded project. It was attended by 24 people in person and 77 on Zoom.
  • A BSL version of a poster of ’10 tips’ for police in communicating with deaf women through sign language interpreters that was created as part of the Justisigns 2 project 
  • 18 videos of terms/ short phrases in BSL that would be useful for police to use if encountering a deaf person to complement a glossary of domestic violence related terms already created as part of the Justisigns 2 project.

Outcomes, future plans & wider impact

  • The project was designed to specifically enable bilateral and in-country activities to take place as a result of the funding that would not have occurred otherwise. The project has allowed us to apply and disseminate the training materials and resources developed together as part of the Justisigns 2 project to targeted groups and to create the opportunity for these materials and resources to continue to be used by educators.
  • There is the potential for follow-on funding to extend the research and training, and to explore different perspectives on domestic violence in deaf communities. Two funding bids have been submitted and are pending decisions.
  • A meeting has been arranged between the project team and Police Scotland and the An Garda Síochána in Dublin eto discuss how to further embed the training materials and resources into training for police officers in Scotland and Ireland, and how there could be greater collaboration between the two forces going forward to support further research. This meeting was facilitated through this project and success of the training.
  • The Justisigns 2 and SILENT HARM projects were highly commended in the Heriot-Watt University Principal’s Research & Engagement Awards (PRIME) under the ‘Influence’ category for the outstanding collaborations with Police Scotland and An Garda Síochána and the impactful nature of the research and training.

In general, it can be seen that there is the potential impact from this project to improve the situation for deaf people generally in coming into contact with the police, as well as in domestic violence situations in rural and metropolitan areas, as the training will raise more awareness among police officers and also provide more confidence to interpreters to take work in legal settings.

1st English Retour Interpreting Summer School held online

(14 to 16 July 2023)  

Congratulations to Dr Eloisa Monteoliva and the academic team (Kate Ferguson, Juliette Rutherford, Tania Aitken, Sarah Goulding) for the huge success of the first online version of the English Retour Interpreting Summer School (14 to 16 July 2023).   

The course was attended by 12 professional interpreters with the following languages: Arabic, Basque, Czech, French, German, and Spanish all seeking to improve their retour into English.   

The participants enjoyed the interaction with other professionals and the opportunity to receive detailed feedback on their English language performance, to help take their interpreting skills one step further. 

Their feedback on the training was very positive overall, showing an appetite for further similar training. As one participant put it:   

“Great job everyone! Please keep organizing these courses, they are very much needed. I’ve been looking for such a course in the last 4 years! And I would gladly take another one in the near future.”  

Roundtable on literary translation

This event was held on Friday 9th June, and streamed online via Zoom. It was interpreted live by M.A. and MSc students, with the spoken interpreters working either remotely or on-site in the LINCS interpreting labs. There were 61 registrations for the event, with a mixture of university students and school pupils, and 150 views of the follow-up recordings.

The session showcased home-grown talents both through the panel and through the interpreting provided, and it also highlighted the existence of a dynamic research community. Panellists enjoyed the event and those who were not familiar with interpreting were impressed to witness the complexities of this activity.

Student interpreters also had a chance to network with the speakers over lunch, and were able to gain some experience of the challenges of a real, online remote interpreted event, with the support of colleagues to help them through – José Mari for the spoken interpreting  team, and Stacey for the BSL team.  

The panel was composed of the following contributors:  

  • Owen Harrington-Fernandez, who focused on his work on translating for a young audience, and the ways to translate various voices. Owen also talked about current research on literary translation. 
  • Maike Hopp, LINCS graduate, who currently combines conference interpreting and translation with her early career in literary translation. Maike shared her insight on the differences between these various forms of expert linguist work, and how complementary they can be nonetheless.  
  • Leri Price (current PhD student at Heriot-Watt and award-winning literary translator) and Esther Tyldesley (experienced award-winning literary translator) explored the challenges and strategies adopted when translating from languages (Arabic and Chinese respectively) which not only work very differently compared to English, but also entail concepts and references that are very culturally specific.  
  • Vineet Lal (MSc graduate, contributing teacher and experienced translator shortlisted recently for an award), who delved into the challenges of translating children’s literature and how to be faithful to a text in which musicality matters as much as meaning. 
  • Clémentine Beauvais (experienced translator and established writer) discussed her approach to translating poetry and how her own writing work feeds into her translation work and vice-versa.  

While the speakers had an opportunity to share their experience of literary translation, the audience enjoyed the detailed presentations by experts in this field, and also got the chance to experience an interpreted event. The student interpreters had an opportunity to practice their interpreting and also to network with the speakers. The roundtable discussion was a great success and we hope to organise another similar event next year.

Transformations in European Societies

By Chiara Cocco and Leri Price

In May 2023, members of the IRC visited Berlin to take part in the Transformations in European Societies (TiES) doctoral programme. TiES connects doctoral students and academic staff from selected universities in Scotland, Austria, Croatia, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Israel, and Denmark through a biannual programme of seminars and presentations.

The programme examines European societies in a state of change, tracing the effects of these changes and situating these reflections within a global context. TiES provides a platform for students to present their work and receive feedback from peers and professors, and to establish links that may result in future collaborations. 

The network is usually hosted by one of the member universities, which also offers its members a chance to visit different places and experience their culture.  This spring meeting, themed ‘Creative Transformations’, took a slightly different form as it was kindly hosted by the Museum of European Cultures.  Dr Alastair Mackie, an affiliate member of the IRC who obtained his PhD at Heriot-Watt, organised the meeting in Berlin and made sure to keep the participants busy with exciting activities and events.   

In line with the theme of the event, students and staff had the opportunity to engage creatively with the various topics of the programme.  Dr Katerina Strani started off by chairing a thought-provoking workshop about fieldwork and creative methods in research.  Following on, Dr Britta Kalkreuter encouraged professors and students to reflect on the future of TiES through a half-day living lab.  Although not a formal part of the programme, both professors celebrated their birthdays in the course of the week, a TiES first!

On the last day, students and staff were not just given a tour of the Museum, but participated in a workshop where they were tasked with creating an exhibition about their interpretations of the meanings of Europe.

Doctoral students from the IRC Leri Price and Chiara Cocco also attended the meeting, with Chiara presenting an update on her doctoral project about cultural festivals in Europe. 

Meeting peers from all over Europe and sharing knowledge has been crucial for forging strong links that result in cutting-edge collaborations. As an example, three student members of TiES, including one current and one former HWU student, have established a podcast that communicates anthropological theories to non-academic audiences.   

HWU is proud to be a member of TiES, and to encourage its students to build strong links with colleagues and institutions across Europe.