JUSTISIGNS 2 project

Supporting deaf female victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence

By Jemina Napier & Luce Clark

See the link to this blogpost in British Sign Language (BSL):

In this v/blogpost Jemina Napier and Luce (Lucy) Clark from the SIGNS@HWU team in the Centre of Translation & Interpreting Studies in Scotland (CTISS) at Heriot-Watt University provide an overview of the work to date on the Justisigns 2 project. The wider project focuses on how to support victims and survivors of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence from deaf and migrant communities, with a view to understanding best practices for key professionals (i.e., police, health and social) and interpreters working together to ensure access to support. The Heriot-Watt University team are focusing on support for deaf women specifically.

The Justisigns 2 project runs from January 2020 to May 2022 but had a delayed start due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and is a follow-on from the Justisigns project, which focused on best practices for police officers and sign language interpreters working together.

Below is a translation of the overview presented in BSL.

JEMINA:          This vlog is about the Justisigns 2 project. My name is Jemina Napier and I work at Heriot Watt University. 

LUCE:               My name is Lucy Clark, I work as a research assistant with Jemina. 

JEMINA:          The purpose of this vlogpost is to explain about the Justisigns 2 project and the goals of the project.

Firstly, we will explain the background of the project, then we will provide details of our work to date and our on-going plans. 

Essentially, we are aiming to understand deaf women’s experiences of gender-based violence (GBV), which can be defined in many ways to include domestic, sexual and emotional abuse, and their needs for accessing support.

Much of the information and support for GBV victims is not available in British Sign Language (BSL) or other sign languages, so this project, funded through the European Commission, brings together a European consortium coordinated by Interesource Group. Heriot-Watt University is the UK partner and we are working with partners in Ireland (Trinity College Dublin), Spain (University of Vigo) and Belgium (European Union for the Deaf). 

We are aiming to develop training materials and resources to support professionals and interpreters working with deaf female victims and survivors of GBV. In an ideal world, any deaf woman who has been abused should be able to receive support from specialist deaf services to get the support directly in BSL (known as language concordant care).

But we know that this is often not possible, so many deaf women will have to receive support through mainstream hearing services, meaning that police officers, counsellors and support workers will have to work with BSL interpreters.

So, the goal of this project is to develop resources as well training materials for both BSL interpreters and allied hearing professionals who work to support deaf female GBV victims and survivors. The project will enable us to better understand the best way to support deaf women and their needs – most importantly – in sign language. 

So far, since starting work on this project we have set up a UK advisory group, involving representatives of key organisations that work with deaf people, with female victims of GBV, or with sign language interpreters, namely BDA Scotland (British Deaf Association), Wise Women in Glasgow, Scottish Women’s Aid, SignHealth, and ASLI (Association of Sign Language Interpreters UK). The organisations will ensure that our project results are most useful, by making us aware of the needs of the key stakeholders.

Since we set up the advisory group, we have also recently administered a survey to interpreters and hearing support professionals to find out what training needs they have to support their skills development in working with deaf women in GBV contexts. We have also run a few online information sessions: (1) a general information event for the British Deaf community, a webinar for deaf women on International Women’s Day, and (3) a joint information session for police officers with the Police Scotland Domestic Abuse Coordination Unit in collaboration with the SIPR (Scottish Institute for Policing Research). 

Also, we held an online workshop with BSL interpreters and deaf IDVAs (Independent Domestic Violence Advocates) to discuss best practices for working together, the challenges involved and any barriers in supporting deaf women. 

We have done a lot of work so far, and we are excited exciting that Luce has now joined the team as a new staff member, and just started at the end of June 2021.

LUCE:               Yes, time flies! 

JEMINA:          Why don’t you explain what you have been doing since then?  

LUCE:               So far, I have done a lot of research, primarily analysing the video of the discussion between the IDVAs and Interpreters; their knowledge and experience, it was amazing. Because I knew from my own experiences, I personally understood what they were talking about. I learned along the way, analysed what they were discussing (for key themes) and produced a translation. We will be sharing the results of that soon. 

Also, I have conducted other research examining the news in Scotland, England and Wales for local relevant updates concerning domestic and gender-based violence. For example, there is one news item that stood out for me: now in Scotland, if a couple are living together to in a rental property, and the perpetrator of abuse is arrested, the victim can stay safely in the rental property. This means that the perpetrator has to leave the property, and the landlord can approve for the victim stay at home to be safe. Information like this is important to share in BSL, which I will be doing regularly through vlogs.

Plus, I will be sharing information on how to recognise different signs to use for concepts related to abuse. It needs to be recognised as the abuses can be wide ranging. So we need to identify appropriate signs for different types of abuse, for example like ‘informed consent’ and pronouns and other terminology. Because we want to ensure that we create a safe space to talk about GBV, for people from LGBTQIA+ and other minority communities, including different ethnicities and disabilities. We can improve access to information by focusing on the key thing that is common to the various deaf communities, and that is providing information in sign language.

It is amazing this work, and I am still excited to work in this project. Looking forward to gathering more information, as the more we have, the more aware we are. So, we will share more information once we have agreed what information needs to go out. 

JEMINA:          We have been busy with this project! It will run for one more year, and hopefully we might get an extension (fingers crossed!). 

Forthcoming plans include a workshop for deaf and hearing interpreters to get together to discuss, like Lucy said earlier, how we sign different terminology and jargon. For example, we sometimes see the sign ‘victim’ signed in a way that is similar to a sign for ‘guilt’, which implies that it is the victim’s fault, which is never the case. A more appropriate sign might be to show the person has suffered, or has experienced abuse, but it is not their fault. There are several other examples for us to discuss the appropriate signs for different terms. Especially if an interpreter is accompanying a victim in a police context where they are being questioned about an incident, or to a  hospital for a medical check-up, or to a counsellor appointment, or to other support services, there can be legal or medical terms that come up that are important for the interpreter to understand. So, Luce is doing some initial research, and then we will have a workshop to discuss these terms with the aim of creating a BSL glossary to make freely available. 

We will also provide workshops for police officers and other hearing support service professionals, as well interpreters, so they can reflect on how best to work in these situations with deaf victims. If you continue to watch our vlogposts, we will regularly share information about the workshops/events coming up.

We also hope to conduct follow up interviews with deaf women about their lived experiences. If we can log their experiences, we can better understand their needs which will inform the development of training materials that reflect their needs. 

LUCE:               And just to add that we are fully aware that most deaf women may feel nervous when it comes to participating in interviews. We would like to be clear on this that all interviews will be 100% confidential. They will help us to generate the evidence to understand the journeys of deaf women having to access hearing services through interpreters. This is our focus as we would like to know how can we improve the situation, to support professionals and interpreters to employ best practices. To avoid additional stress caused by having to explain about deaf-specific issues, which can create tensions. Our goal is to make sure the support services are smooth was possible, to work together to focus on victim, so hearing professionals and interpreters can better work toegther.  As a survivor myself who has been through domestic violence, if you are comfortable, I welcome you to talk to me, and I guarantee that anything you say will remain confidential.  Our job is to make sure you are safe. We want to be clear on that.  

JEMINA:          That’s right. It is a good point. Especially because the interviews will be recorded in BSL. From the videos we will take note of the most important things, but then the videos will be deleted immediately as soon as we are finished. The videos won’t be shown to anyone else, or kept for any other reason. No names will be revealed. The aim of the interview is to learn about experiences, and to use example quotes in the training to reveal those experiences; but no one will ever know who said what. which can be used to develop better training. It is a good point and it is important to be clear on that. 

So, what’s next? Luce has vlogging plans! 

LUCE:               Yes, I will be vlogging about any events in the UK, or new information, e.g. about change of laws or the fight for law reform, or campaigns for the victims. That information I will be vlogging via Twitter and Facebook. The more information out there, the better. You can follow us, tag us, and share the information with friends and family. It will raise awareness about these situations, and we will signpost information on where people can get support by the right people/organisations. And the best thing is that it will all be in BSL; we will be translating information into in BSL. This we hope to launch soon, aiming for a vlogpost every month. So, keep an eye out for it. If you have any information that you would like to share with us, that we can do; I will share it through the vlog. 

JEMINA:          So, watch this space! 

LUCE:               Keep safe, all of you.  

InterTrainE Newsletter: February 2021

Welcome to the final newsletter of our Erasmus+ project Intercultural Training for Educators (InterTrainE)! The 2-year project is led by Heriot-Watt University and the Coordinator is Dr Katerina Strani from the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies

InterTrainE course launch

Our free online course on Intercultural Training for Educators was officially launched at national events and at an international final dissemination conference earlier this month. The InterTrainE course is available in 4 languages (English, Greek, Italian and Finnish) and the national events presented the local language version of the course.

National Multiplier Events

ITALY

The Italian course launch took place on 28th January online. The project lead for Studio Risorse, Monica Miglionico, and the project lead for Il Sicomoro, Valeria Zampagni, presented the Italian course and engaged in a long discussion with educators, migrant learners and other stakeholders in Matera and beyond.

GREECE

The Greek course launch took place on 27th January online. The project lead for KEKAPER at the Region of Crete, Charalambos-Nikolaos Piteris, and the project lead for the European Education and Learning Institute -EELI, Kalli Rodopoulou, presented the Greek course and engaged in discussion with participant educators, local and regional authorities and other stakeholders.

FINLAND

The Finnish course launch took place on February 11th online. The project lead for Learning for Integration ry, Marja-Liisa Helenius, presented the Finnish course and engaged in discussion with participant educators, learners and other stakeholders.

UK – FINAL LAUNCH EVENT

The UK dissemination and final launch event for the project took place on February 1st online. The project lead for Creative Learning Programmes, Chrysi Koundouraki, and the project coordinator from Heriot-Watt University, Dr Katerina Strani, presented the InterTrainE course and engaged in discussion with participant educators, learners, academics and other stakeholders in the UK and the rest of Europe.

The InterTrainE course

The InterTrainE course is divided into 4 Modules and each Module consists of 4 units.

Module 1: Theoretical Background, Basic Principles and Concepts
Module 2: Intercultural Competences in the Context of Migration
Module 3: Adult education practices in intercultural contexts
Module 4: Impact and global citizenship

A certificate of completion awarding 5 EQF credits is issued to learners who complete the course and achieve a minimum of 70% in each Module. Learners can choose to complete part of the course according to their training needs, however they will not receive a certificate of completion if they do not complete all 4 Modules.

There is a discussion forum where you are invited to ask questions and discuss key concepts or case studies in the course under the principles of peer learning.

The course is accompanied by a Course Syllabus and a Trainees’ Handbook.

You can find all our completed outputs, including research reports, curricula, the course syllabus and the trainees’ handbook on our website: http://intertraine.eu/outputs

Remember that our website and our outputs are available in all project languages: English, Italian, Greek and Finnish.

Be part of our conversation! Register on our platform http://intertraine.eu/moodle/ and follow the online course. Send us your feedback at info@intertraine.eu

Thank you for all your support!

Project website and social media accounts

Our project website includes information and updates on our project, as well as all Intellectual Outputs to date. The website is available in all partner languages – English, Greek, Italian and Finnish.

Updates are published regularly on social media. To make sure you don’t miss out:
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Follow us on Research Gate  

For any questions or comments, please contact: info@intertraine.eu

Or the project coordinator:

Dr Katerina Strani
Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies
Henry Prais Building
Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh EH14 4AS
UK
Tel: +44 131 451 4216
A.Strani@hw.ac.uk

IndyLan Project Update! June 2020

Welcome to the second newsletter of our Erasmus+ project Mobile Virtual Learning for Indigenous Languages (IndyLan). The 26-month project (2019-2021) is led by Heriot-Watt University and the Coordinator is Dr Katerina Strani from the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies

IndyLan includes 5 partners from 4 countries (UK, Finland, Norway and Spain) and aims to develop a mobile application which will help to learn the languages and cultures associated with the following indigenous languages: Gaelic, Scots, Cornish, Basque, Galician and Saami. The project will develop an educational tool designed specifically for users to learn not only some of Europe’s endangered languages but also more about the cultures of the people who speak these languages.

The partners are:

The IndyLan application will help speakers of English, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish to learn Gaelic, Scots, Cornish, Basque, Galician and Saami, all endangered at different degrees


The tool constitutes a gamified language-learning solution in the form of a mobile application. Smartphones have become a popular educational tool and the number of the smartphone and tablet users of all ages is constantly growing in the EU. The application is building on a previous project, Moving Languages, with the key difference that IndyLan will produce one application for all languages, and not multiple language-specific applications as Moving Languages did. IndyLan will contain around 4,000 vocabulary items (both terms and expressions) in about 100 categories. The modes that will be available in the application are: Vocabulary; Phrases; Dialogues; Grammar; Culture; Test. 

The app is scheduled to be launched at the Final Dissemination Conference in Cornwall in September 2021. It will be available for download globally for free in both iOS and Android. Like all language-learning apps, IndyLan is complementary to other language- and culture courses and can be considered to be part of self-study material.

Our vision is for the IndyLan app to contribute to endangered language learning and revitalisation so that these languages remain alive and relevant in contemporary societies and economies. 

News and updates

Website launch

Our project website was launched in February! The website is available in 10 languages (and soon we will also have Swedish). It has a dedicated section on the languages and people of the IndyLan app, with videos and resources. On our website you can also find news and updates, as well as a list of our downloadable outputs.

Intellectual Output 1 completed

Our Intellectual Output 1: Report on endangered indigenous languages in partner countries and mobile learning solutions is ready and can be downloaded from our website 

The report provides an overview of endangered languages in the partner countries (UK, Finland, Norway, Spain) and a review of mobile and other virtual learning tools for learning and promoting these languages. The report starts with an overview of the endangered languages in Europe, and the current EU policies concerning indigenous and minority languages. Next, it provides some figures and statistics regarding the above six indigenous and endangered languages, which are part of the IndyLan app (Basque, Cornish, Gaelic, Galician, Scots and Sámi), in the partner countries (UK, Spain, Finland, Norway). Finally, it reviews mobile learning solutions and online resources available for these endangered languages in partner countries (for Android, iOS, and Windows platforms).

Each partner researched, downloaded and tested where possible, and evaluated the available language learning applications. The search was carried out on Google, Apple and other markets, using the mobile devices and PCs. The result of this work is not only a rich collection of language learning applications described in detail, but also an important collection of suggestions and useful information for developing the IndyLan app.

Promotional Cornish video

Watch Mark Trevethan from Cornwall Council promoting the IndyLan app in Cornish!

Covid-19 impact on our project

These last few months have certainly been different and difficult for many of us. Many aspects of our work and our lives have changed as we are being affected in ways we could not imagine.

In light of the rapidly changing situation with the Coronavirus pandemic, we had to cancel our face-to-face meeting in Karasjok, Sápmi, Norway which was due to take place on 10-11 June. We met twice online instead, once in April and once in June. If circumstances allow it, we will meet in Karasjok in March 2021 at our scheduled third project meeting, otherwise we will meet in Bilbao as originally planned.

Our 2nd project meeting took place online due to Covid-19 restrictions

Katerina (coordinator, HWU) dialling in from her home in Edinburgh
Steve (Scots researcher, HWU), joining from his home outside Edinburgh
Veronica (Learnmera) in lockdown in Portugal, looking very happy indeed!
Mark (Cornwall Council) joined from his home in Cornwall
Garazi (Moviéndote) joined from her office in Bilbao, where the lockdown had just been lifted
Áile (Saami Council) from her office in Karasjok, where the lockdown had just been lifted
Beaska Niilas (Saami Council, Sámi researcher) also dialled in from Karasjok.

With the help of technology, we were able to hold an online partners’ meeting on the 10th of June instead of our planned one in Karasjok. We had already held a catch-up meeting in April online, where we discussed the current and next stages of the project and made sure that everyone is all right and coping with the situation at the moment. In these two meetings we discussed the project’s progress, dissemination, internal and external reviewing procedures, and Covid-19 contingency planning. The full agenda of the meeting can be found here

Progress

  • We received a very positive review of our Intellectual Output 1 and of the progress of our project so far by the external evaluator, Dr Philip McDermott, Senior Lecturer, School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences, University of Ulster.
  • We submitted a progress report to our funder, Erasmus + UK, and we are awaiting results and any recommendations.
  • Intellectual Output 2 is the application itself, which will be ready in beta version by April 2021. Partners have completed the translation of about 4,000 vocabulary items for each language, which was no easy task, as there were many untranslatable terms (there are no words for yes or no in Cornish), terms with complicated translations (‘to own something’ in Gaelic) and other terms with more than one translations (see snow terminology  in Sámi).
  • Partners are now in the process of translating phrases and dialogues, developing the grammar tabs and the culture tabs. After this, we will be producing audio files for all these terms and phrases!
  • The developers will have the app backend ready soon, so the app will start taking shape.
  • Intellectual Output 3 will be the pilot testing of the app which will be carried out by remote users as well as participants in our multiplier events in all partner countries in the summer of 2021.
  • The app is scheduled to be launched at the Final Dissemination Conference in Cornwall in September 2021.

Next project meetings

–> September 2020 (online)

–> December 2020 (online)

–> March 2021: Bilbao or Karasjok – to be confirmed!

Will the March 2021 meeting take place in Karasjok?
Or in Bilbao?

If you are an educator, the Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe has just opened a call for #AdultLearning community to share their stories. 

Why not share yours at https://epale.ec.europa.eu/en/blog/community-stories-initiative?

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/IndylanP
Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProjectIndyLan

Stay safe everyone!

For any questions or comments, please contact us at info@indylan.eu

Sign language interpreting in international conferences & high-level meetings: Pioneering work at Heriot-Watt University

By Jemina Napier

Click here to see blogpost in International Sign

In December 2019, the Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies in Scotland and the Heriot-Watt University BSL team (SIGNS@HWU) had the privilege of hosting a curriculum development meeting to discuss a potential pioneering new Masters programme in Sign Language Interpreting in Conferences and High-Level Meetings, as well as the delivery of a ‘taster’ course in 2020 in order to boost the number of International Sign interpreters currently working in these contexts.

Participants included representatives from key stakeholder Deaf community and sign language interpreting organisations, including the World Federation of the Deaf, World Association of Sign Language Interpreters, European Union of the Deaf, European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters, Overseas Interpreting, the AIIC Sign Language Network and the National Technical Institute of the Deaf-Rochester Institute of Technology; as well as independent experts with experience as deaf and hearing International Sign interpreters and interpreter educators.

Participants at the development meeting, December 2019

The curriculum development project has been part-funded by the Directorate General for Interpretation (SCIC) at the European Commission, with support for staff time from the Heriot-Watt University School of Social Sciences and Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies (LINCS). 

The project has been established in recognition of the increasing demand for sign language interpreters to work at international conferences and high-level meetings, and also to increase the numbers of International Sign interpreters accredited through the WASLI-WFD International Sign interpreter accreditation system.

SCIC recognised Heriot-Watt University as being the ideal university to develop a new Masters programme, as LINCS been offering courses in Conference Interpreting since 1970 and is one of only four UK university departments that have been granted membership of CIUTI, an international body which brings together universities which specialise in translating and interpreter training. LINCS is also a partner with the Magdeburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany and HUMAK University of Applied Sciences in Finland in the delivery of the European Masters in Sign Language Interpreting (EUMASLI). Thus, we will draw together our expertise in training both spoken and signed language interpreters to deliver this pioneering course. It is hoped that the new Masters programme will commence from September 2021

2020 intensive course

The first step in the curriculum development project is to offer an intensive ‘booster’ course in June 2020.

The intensive 5-day course on sign language interpreting in international conferences and high-level meetings (SLIC) for professionally qualified national sign language interpreters focuses on strengthening International Sign skills, enhancing awareness of relevant European and international institutions, as well as practical translingual interpreting skills, working between primarily English and International Sign but also other spoken and signed languages.

This intensive course has three goals:

(1) To prepare interpreters to apply for WASLI-WFD International Sign interpreter accreditation.

(2) To boost the number of International Sign interpreters working internationally, but particularly in Europe to meet needs at the European Commission, the European Parliament, at United Nations Geneva, and also for academic conferences and political meetings.

(3) To trial curriculum content for a potential new Masters programme in Sign Language Interpreting at Conferences to be offered through Heriot-Watt University LINCS.

  • The overall aim of the intensive course is to work towards readiness for applying for accreditation either with WFD-WASLI, or for EU or UN accreditation.
  • Completion of the intensive training course is no guarantee of accreditation or offers of work as an International Sign interpreter

Course content

The final course content and delivery will be finalised once the language combinations of the participants have been confirmed. Overall, using a case study approach, the 5-day course will include discussions and practical sessions on:

  • The International Sign/ multilingual interpreting landscape
  • EU and international organisations
  • Enhancing translingual skills
  • International Sign ‘therapy’
  • Applied interpreting skills
  • Unilateral interpreting
  • Bilateral interpreting
  • Relay interpreting
  • Critical reflective practice
  • One-to-one structured feedback on interpreting
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Professionalism and ethics

Our state-of-the-art digital interpreting and sign language labs will be available exclusively for use by students on this course, as well as access to bespoke visual software for recording and annotating sign language interpreting work.

The course will be delivered primarily by leading sign language, deaf studies and sign language interpreting researchers, educators and practitioners at Heriot-Watt, including:

  • Professor Jemina Napier: Accredited WFD-WASLI International Sign interpreter, AIIC Associate member, Registered Qualified BSL/English interpreter, Accredited Auslan/English interpreter, expertise in research and teaching on sign language interpreting
  • Professor Graham H. Turner: Sign language policy and Interpreting Studies academic, co-founder of the EUMASLI and Heriot-Watt BSL UG programmes, expertise in research and teaching on sign language interpreting and BSL policy
  • Dr Annelies Kusters: Deaf Studies academic, expertise in research and teaching on deaf ethnographies, professional mobilities, translanguaging and International Sign
  • Dr Robert Adam: Accredited WFD-WASLI International Sign interpreter, Registered Qualified BSL-ISL interpreter, Registered Qualified BSL-English translator, expertise in research and teaching on sign language contact and sign language interpreting. (joining Heriot-Watt staff in April 2020)
  • Dr Stacey Webb: Certified ASL/English interpreter, expertise in teaching sign language interpreting and research on sign language interpreting pedagogy
  • Andy Carmichael: Accredited WFD-WASLI International Sign interpreter, AIIC Associate member, Registered Qualified BSL/English interpreter, Accredited Auslan/English interpreter, Chair of the board of Association of Sign Language Interpreters UK (ASLI UK), in-house interpreter at Heriot-Watt, expertise in training and mentoring sign language interpreters
  • Christopher Tester: Accredited WFD-WASLI International Sign interpreter, AIIC Full member, Certified ASL/English interpreter, PhD student at Heriot-Watt, expertise in training sign language interpreters

In addition, further input will come from LINCS academics who are experts in teaching multilingual, spoken language conference interpreting, and external collaborators with expertise in International Sign and International Sign interpreting.

Who is this course for?

  • This intensive course is targeted at sign language interpreters from any country who have not yet achieved WFD-WASLI International Sign interpreter accreditation, or are already accredited but do not feel that they have previously received sufficient training and would like more professional skills development. Priority will be given to applicants who are not yet accredited.
  • Applications are particularly encouraged from interpreters who are deaf, female or from ethnic minorities.
  • A quota of places will be offered to European-based interpreters due to the part funding of the course by the European Commission.

Course dates

Date: 8th-12th June 2020

Venue: Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Campus, Scotland

Applicants for the intensive course must meet the following essential criteria:

  • Hold a national sign language interpreting qualification (or equivalent)
  • Have a minimum of 5 years post-qualification (or equivalent) experience in national sign language interpreting
  • Have extensive experience of national sign language interpreting in conference or high-level meetings (minimum of 50 hours)
  • Evidence of IS conference interpreting experience (minimum of 20 hours)

Applications from deaf or hearing interpreters from countries that do not have established undergraduate sign language interpreting programmes, or professional infrastructure will be considered on a case-by-case basis for the equivalent knowledge and experience.

How to Apply click here to get more information and how to apply

Exchange programme – two weeks in Vietnam!

By Katerina Koukouviki

MSc student, Cultural Heritage Management with Tourism

In the beginning of October, one of our professors at the MSc in Cultural Heritage Management with Tourism, Ullrich Kockel, informed us during his class that there was an opening for an Erasmus+ exchange programme, called Marco Polo”. One student would be able to attend classes for two weeks at the University of Hanoi in Vietnam (HANU).

I considered it to be a unique opportunity and I immediately started emailing around, to find out more about all the requirements and the procedure in general. I was trying not to get my hopes up at first, as I thought that it was just one opening and I guessed that many other students would have been interested.

Nevertheless, after a few meetings with HWU Marco Polo Coordinator John Cleary and Cultural Studies coordinator Katerina Strani and several emails later, it was confirmed from Vietnam that I was accepted! The University took care of my trip there and I arranged the matter of my VISA (got reimbursed later). I also received a grant for my expenses during my stay there.

By the end of October, I was in Vietnam, where I spent the next two weeks. I explored the vibrant city of Hanoi and I was able to travel around the country as well. Apart from its natural beauty, Vietnam is soaked in history. A millennium under the rule of China, the French colonisation and the Vietnamese war have left their marks that are evident in its cultural heritage.

Watching the beauty of Tam Coc from above.

At the HANU University of Hanoi, I was welcomed by Mrs. Nhai Nguyen, Mr. Ha Pham Viet and the manager of the programme, Prof. Nhat Tuan Nguyen. My classmates were very friendly, and we exchanged our points of view regarding cultural differences, as well as several cultural and heritage-related topics. Their insights helped me understand Vietnamese culture much better.

With Prof. Duong (on the left) and Prof. Tuan Nguyen (on the right) at HANU University.
One of the buildings at HANU University.
Initiated to Pho Bo (soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat) by my classmates.

Here are some interesting facts around student life in Hanoi:

  • Classes start at 7.00 in the morning and facilities like the library close after 18.45. Yeap… You might have to say goodbye to 9.15 for a while!
  • Students who live in the dorms pay almost £17/month (Monthly average income per capita in an urban area for 2018: £185) [1] and share the room with another 6, 8 or 10 persons. This would be very difficult for me and I would guess for other Westerners, as I appreciate my privacy.
The University Halls of Residence

As a final point, I would like to encourage all students to make the most of their student life and participate in exchange programmes in order to meet new people and places and expand their horizons. My experience was unforgettable!

Sources:

[1] General Statistics Office of Vietnam:

 11. Health, Culture and Living Standard – Monthly average income per capita at current prices by residence and by region- Urban,2018). Retrieved from: https://www.gso.gov.vn/default_en.aspx?tabid=783

IndyLan Newsletter – January 2020

Welcome to the first newsletter of our Erasmus+ project Mobile Virtual Learning for Indigenous Languages (IndyLan). The 26-month project (2019-2021) is led by Heriot-Watt University and the Coordinator is Dr Katerina Strani from the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies

IndyLan includes 5 partners from 4 countries (UK, Finland, Norway and Spain) and aims to develop a mobile application which will help to learn the languages and cultures associated with the following indigenous languages: Gaelic, Scots, Cornish, Basque, Galician and Saami. The project will develop an educational tool designed specifically for users to learn not only some of Europe’s endangered languages but also more about the cultures of the people who speak these languages.

The partners are:

The IndyLan application will help speakers of English, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish to learn Gaelic (designated as ‘definitely endangered’), Scots (‘severely endangered’), Cornish (‘critically endangered’), Basque (‘severely endangered’), Galician (a minority language) and Saami (‘severely endangered’). 


The tool constitutes a gamified language-learning solution in the form of a mobile application. Smartphones have become a popular educational tool and the number of the smartphone and tablet users of all ages is constantly growing in the EU. The application is building on a previous project, Moving Languages, with the key difference that IndyLan will produce one application for all languages, and not multiple language-specific applications as Moving Languages did. IndyLan will contain around 4,000 vocabulary items (both terms and expressions) in about 100 categories. The modes that will be available in the application are: Vocabulary; Phrases; Dialogues; Grammar; Culture; Test. 

The app will be launched at the Final Dissemination Conference in Cornwall in September 2021. It will be available for download globally for free in both iOS and Android. Like all language-learning apps, IndyLan is complementary to other language- and culture courses and can be considered to be part of self-study material.

Our vision is for the IndyLan app to contribute to endangered language learning and revitalisation so that these languages remain alive and relevant in contemporary societies and economies. 

News and updates

Our kick-off meeting took place in Edinburgh on 07-08 October 2019. 

Partners met at Heriot-Watt University‘s Riccarton campus and discussed the project’s timeline, milestones and deadlines. They agreed on the project logo and on the design of the website. Each partner gave an overview of their contribution. The project evaluation procedures were also finalised, and the procedure of appointing an external evaluator was agreed upon. The external evaluator for the project will be Dr Philip McDermott, Senior Lecturer, School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences, University of Ulster. The full agenda of the meeting can be found here.

(L-R) – Áile Jávo (Saami Council), Mark Trevethan (Cornwall Council), Katerina Strani (HWU), Veronica Gelfgren (Learnmera Oy), Naroa Bengoetxea (Asociación Moviéndote)

The first Intellectual Output is a short needs analysis, which will be published in early February. The 2nd Intellectual Output will be the application itself, which will be ready in beta version by April 2021. The 3rd Intellectual Output will be the pilot testing of the app which will be carried out by remote users as well as participants in our multiplier events in all partner countries in the summer of 2021. The app will be launched at the Final Dissemination Conference in Cornwall in September 2021. It will be available for download globally for free in both iOS and Android.

Discussing the budget
A long but productive day!
Discussing the vocabulary and going through more than 4,000 terms!
Finished! Now time for the partner dinner.
(L-R): Katerina Strani (HWU), Veronica Gelfren (Learnmera Oy), Mark Trevethan (Cornwall Council), Naroa Bengoetxea (Asociación Moviéndote), Áile Jávo (Saami Council)
The IndyLan project partners with our Intercultural Research Centre Directors Ullrich Kockel and Máiréad Nic Craith

Our project website will soon be available, so stay tuned!

Next project meeting:

10-11 June 2020

Karasjok, (Sápmi) Norway

Hosted by the Saami Council Headquarters

 Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/IndylanApp

 Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProjectIndyLan

For any questions or comments, please contact the project coordinator:

Dr Katerina Strani

Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies

Henry Prais Building

Heriot-Watt University

Edinburgh EH14 4AS

UK

Tel: +44 131 451 4216

A.Strani@hw.ac.uk

InterTrainE project – October 2019 newsletter

One year on, and our team grew by two members! Kate Sailer from CLP gave a birth to a boy in May 2019 and Kalli Rodopoulou from EELI also gave birth to a boy in July 2019. 

Congratulations to both!

For the rest of us, it’s business as usual. The 3rd InterTrainE partners’ meeting took place in Helsinki on 12-13 September 2019.

As always, all partners participated and we were joined by our External Evaluator, Dr Jim Crowther. We are very grateful to our external evaluator for his feedback and guidance so far. His expertise and engagement with the project are invaluable.

It’s been a very busy time, as we finished our 3rd intellectual output – Curriculum on Intercultural Education which has also been translated in all partner languages (Finnish, Italian and Greek).

We discussed the 4th intellectual output (IO4 – Training material for online use). Work is already under way. Georgia Zervaki from EELI, the IO4 leader, presented the timeline for material development and Monica Miglionico from Studio Risorse showed us some concrete examples of material developed so far.

Marja-Liisa Helenius (LFI) presented the updates on the InterTrainE platform (Moodle), which is starting to take shape, at least it in its technical form.

Katerina Strani (HWU), as coordinator, was tasked with updating the partnership on internal evaluation, peer reviewing and external evaluation, both by Dr Jim Crowther and by the EU.

We are very pleased to announce that our Progress Report satisfied the funder and there are no issues to address! As we are approaching the completion of the first half of the 26-month project, we are busy preparing the documents for the Interim Report to the funder.

The project is on track, and the timeline is as follows:

IO5 (Training guide for Adult Educators) – December 2019

IO6 (Course Syllabus) – January 2020

IO4 (Training material for online use) – April 2020

The Joint-Staff Training Event (JSTE), which will test the course material with non-project participants from the partner countries (both educators and learners) will take place in Rethymno, Crete, 04-08 May 2020. Our next project meeting will take place on 07 and 08 May in Rethymno, which will give us the opportunity to look at the JSTE and the feedback and plan the necessary changes to the course.  

More updates on the JSTE will be sent later on in the year. Watch this space!

The partnership had dinner at a traditional Karelian restaurant in Helsinki. Thank you Marja-Liisa Helenius for the hospitality J

See you in Rethymno in the Spring, where we will be testing the InterTrainE course material!

For more information about the project, please visit our website, which includes information and updates on our project, as well as all Intellectual Outputs to date. The website is available in all partner languages – English, Greek, Italian and Finnish.

Updates are published regularly on social media. To make sure you don’t miss out:

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on Research Gate

For any questions or comments, please contact the project coordinator:

Dr Katerina Strani

Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies

Henry Prais Building

Heriot-Watt University

Edinburgh EH14 4AS

UK

Tel: +44 131 451 4216

A.Strani@hw.ac.uk

Intercultural Research Centre Symposium 2019

By Katerina Strani and Chiara Cocco

Photo courtesy of Stefan Schäfer, Lich (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons *

After the successful event in 2016, it was time to hold another Intercultural Research Centre (IRC) Symposium this year, themed “Scotland at a Crossroads – Heritage past and futures”. This was the IRC’s flagship research event, in which we investigated the challenges faced by Scotland in the light of recent political events in the European context, with particular focus on culture, communities and heritage.

The event took place in March 2019 and included presentations by IRC members and guest speakers, a lecture delivered by our keynote speaker Dr. Tuuli Lähdesmäki on cultural heritage in Europe, and a round-table conversation about the implications of Brexit for Scotland. The symposium concluded with a cultural event and performance kindly sponsored by the Confucius Institute, followed by a wine reception.

We started with a multilingual welcome by IRC Director Mairead Nic Craith and Acting Director Ullrich Kockel. One of our Deaf PhD students, Sanchu Iyer kindly showed the rest of the audience the BSL signs for ‘Scotland’, ‘heritage’ and ‘Brexit’. The sign for Scotland definitely had its roots in bagpipes; the one for Heritage reminded us of the act of passing something on, and the one for Brexit gave the impression of a small part breaking out of a larger whole.

First up was IRC member Dr Gina Netto, whose presentation was focused on ‘Heritage, Migration and Brexit’.

Gina argued that the social, political, economic and cultural landscape of the UK has been profoundly shaped by its heritage of colonialism, its involvement in the slave trade, post-war reconstruction and more recently, by its membership of the EU, all of which have contributed to major migratory flows.  Public concerns around levels of immigration have often led politicians to respond with promises to reduce immigration to the ‘hundreds of thousands’ and to ‘take back control’ of its borders. Gina’s presentation considered the central role of race and migration in the events leading up to the 2016 EU referendum, the impacts of the outcome and how the UK may move forward in addressing these heavily contested issues.

Next, IRC member Dr Lina Fadel presented “I belong, I belong not: Brexit, me, and a ‘Boy Named Sue’”.

In this presentation, Lina addressed the question: ‘what does Brexit mean for our cultural and national identity and belonging in Britain?’ Lina explored the portmanteau word ‘Brexit’ and its cultural and spatial implications more closely, particularly its ‘alienating’ stance for people like herself (a naturalised UK citizen) who have ideals drawn from multiple cultures and whose Britishness does not come with the historical and nationalist repertoire that would enable them to identify with ‘the make Britain great again’ and ‘to have our cake and eat it’ discourses or express their Britishness in such linear ways. “We are constantly trying to form new identities in this liminal, in-between (also referred to by post-colonial theorist Homi Bhabha as ‘third’) space where ideologies and cultures continue to collide”, Lina argued. Is Brexit itself a ‘third space’ that allows us to negotiate meaning, representation and identity in a global world? And how can we reconcile our multi-layered identities and cultures, both heritage and host, and move forward when Britain has decided to go back to the ‘good old days’? When asked her how she can belong to Britain as a recently naturalised British citizen, Lina responded that, through her research, she has talked with many British-born citizens who don’t feel they belong to or identify with Britain today. It was a powerful and thought-provoking presentation and argument.

IRC member and Symposium organiser Dr Katerina Strani was next, and she presented some thoughts on “Multicultural citizenship: Challenges and Opportunities”.

Katerina began by exploring the concept of citizenship as commitment to a specific polity and to a set of rights of obligations, which is why it is also connected to legitimacy (Bauboeck, 2010; Kockel, 2010). Such a commitment implies belonging, both in terms of a personal sense of belonging and in terms of ascribed belonging (from the state). Katerina used her own case as an example of a Greek citizen (she never misses an opportunity to talk about her hometown of Thessaloniki) who is also a Scottish citizen, voting for Scottish Parliament elections and for the Scottish Independence referendum in 2014. This citizenship-belonging nexus (Bauboeck, 2010) means that citizenship can never be culture-blind (Nic Craith, 2004; Habermas, 2005), and indeed the connection between culture and citizenship has been studied by sociologists, cultural studies and politics scholars. The profusion of new publics, diasporic and increasingly diverse, led to a reconsideration of citizenship not only from a multilingual, but also from a multicultural perspective. Kymlicka (2010) widely introduced the concept of multicultural citizenship in multination states, initially focusing on Canada. Kymlicka’s multinational and post-national approaches were discussed in Katerina’s talk, which led to a critical consideration of multiculturalism v. interculturalism v. polyculturalism in contemporary societies, where “culture is more important than ever” (Fukuyama, 2017). The Scottish case of civic citizenship was presented, together with the New Scots strategy, before concluding on the main challenges and opportunities of multicultural citizenship. Challenges include the need to recognise and thematise the liminality of migrant publics as part of culturally enriched hybrid publics (Strani, 2020 forthcoming); how to be more inclusive for those who “do not belong”, e.g. asylum seekers, or those participating in informal networks of “uncivil society” (Ruzza, 2009). The opportunities in societies where citizenship is multilingual and multicultural, and therefore people’s existence is legitimised through their commitment to certain values, include flourishing communities, a redefinition of ‘common interests’ and enrichment of public life. 

Dr Emma Hill from the University of Edinburgh presented her research on ‘New’ Scots?  (Re)Writing Somali Narratives in Scotland.

Emma’s paper offered a critique of the narratives of ‘newness’ applied to people of Somali backgrounds living in contemporary Scotland.  Drawing on research from her PhD thesis and further archival work, Emma’s paper: (1) traced how Somali people are discoursed as ‘New Scots’ and (2) argued that Somali histories in Scotland in fact extend to the twentieth century.  Connecting to ongoing discussions about Scotland’s role in Empire and its mobilisation of race, Emma argued that the erasure of Somali-Scots’ histories obscure Scotland’s colonial legacy, and adversely impact Somali-Scots’ experiences of citizenship in Scotland today.

After a short coffee break, it was time for our keynote lecture by Dr Tuuli Lähdesmäki from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. The lecture was entitled ’Europe at a Crossroads: Cultural Heritage in the Creation of a European Narrative’

Postmillennial Europe has faced various political, economic, social and humanitarian challenges and crises that influence how Europeans deal with the past, present and future of Europe. These challenges and crises have also shaken the foundations of the EU and strengthened criticism of its legitimacy and integration processes. Simultaneously, the ideas of European cultural roots, memory, history and heritage have gained a new role in European politics and policies. The EU’s increased interest in the European past and shared cultural heritage can be perceived as the EU’s attempt to tackle some of these recent challenges and crises – including identity crises – in Europe. How does the EU utilize the idea of cultural heritage in the creation of a European narrative? How is the idea of Europe constructed in the EU’s heritage policies and initiatives? The lecture discussed these topics by using the most recent EU heritage action, the European Heritage Label, as a case study.

We were honoured to welcome Dr Lähdesmäki as our keynote speaker. Her thought-provoking case-study led to lengthy discussions which went on during lunch.

After lunch, it was time for Dr Jennie Morgan from the University of Stirling to present her talk, entitled “Grappling with ‘Profusion’: A Crossroad for Assembling Alternative Heritage Futures Through Museum Collecting”

Museums, Jennie argued, as with people in their homes, are increasingly faced with the ‘profusion predicament’. That is, the challenge of grappling not only with large quantities of material things, but seemingly infinite possibilities for choosing what might be acquired and retained for the future. Compounded by shrinking space in which to display and store it all, this leaves some collections staff asking if museums simply have ‘too much stuff’ to reasonably handle? This short provocation, grounded in ethnographic research undertaken in collaboration with University of York colleagues Professor Sharon Macdonald (project director) and Harald Fredheim (researcher), introduced key issues to the Symposium’s ‘crossroads’ discussions, including sustainability, collecting-futures, and heritage values. By briefly looking at what fuels the Profusion predicament, and a range of responses from museums (especially those tasked with collecting from the recent past and contemporary everyday life), Jennie’s fascinating paper prompted us to consider both the specific heritage futures that are shaping yet also being made by museum collecting in Scotland and the wider UK.

The heritage theme continued with IRC member Cait McCullagh, whose presentation was entitled “Weathering the storm: Heritage-making as learning for sustainability in uncertain waters”

Orkney and Shetland, Cait argued, were once central in international flows of people, goods and ideas.  Now, their open economies, high youth out-migration, and ecosystems abraded by climate change indicate a precarity only further compounded by Brexit.  Cait’s research explored Northern Isles inhabitants’ concepts of aspects of their heritages as ‘ecosystems of memory’, sustaining situated, resilient responsiveness in the face of such extrinsic uncertainties. The praxis, based on a co-curation mobilising ‘deliberative value formation’, elicits social learning concerning the usefulness of collaboratively, consciously deliberating heritage-making, identity-work and future assembling for learning about the formation of behaviours and decision-making in other socio-political processes. Cait also asked ‘what part does/can/should this sentimentality play within current value judgements?’

Moving on to ‘dark’ heritage and in particular Intangible Cultural Heritage, Prof Alison McCleery from Edinburgh Napier University gave a bold and thought-provoking talk on “Throwing light on a ‘dark’ side of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) and its responsible management

The concept of ‘dark tourism’ is these days increasingly well known, Prof McCleery stated. Less so the notion of dark ICH, with general perceptions of ICH reflecting a particular range of quaint, wholesome and apparently benign folk traditions, often rooted in rural communities. These largely reflect the domains of the UNESCO Convention on the ICH (2003) and are expected to be accessible to the general public, and increasingly also open to the tourist gaze. However, a range of living cultural traditions lies outside this consensual ideal implicit in both the UNESCO framework and its implementation by national and local agencies. Although not signed up to the Convention, and arguably just because of that, Scotland is not exempt from the increasingly challenging but nevertheless imperative responsibility of ‘policing’ its ICH. Prof McCleery’s presentation explored the complex challenges, for both agencies and academics as well as for ICH practitioners and for society at large, of managing often conflicting expectations in respect of examples drawn from this range of ‘controversial’ ICH in Scotland and beyond. The chair had to stop us from discussing Prof McCleery’s presentation because we were pressed for time, but the conversation on this fascinating topic went on during the coffee break.

After a coffee break, it was time for David Francis, Director of Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland (TRACS) to present his paper on “Traditional Music as Heritage”.

David explored a paradox of the heritage discourse – that, on the one hand, the designation of an aspect of nature or culture as ‘heritage’ is a form of ‘enclosure, commodification and colonisation’ (Weber 2015), and, on the other, a means by which access is enlarged. Since the folk revival of the second half of the twentieth century greater access to traditional music in Scotland has seen it become a creative resource and a source of meaning for many, but also a point of tension, in terms of uses of heritage, between those whose main interest is in preservation and authenticity and those whose main interest is its possibilities for personal artistic statement. David also paid tribute to Jimmy McBeath, when reflecting on the conflict between authenticity and cultural appropriation. We listened to a short song by Jimmy McBeath during David’s presentation.

Next up, IRC member Marc Romano presented a paper entitled “Scottish national identity in an era of change, the power of movies and TV shows”

Following the Brexit referendum, the question of national identity and belonging was raised and challenged particularly in Scotland where their origins are strongly aligned with Europe. Marc’s paper explored the redefinition of contemporary Scottish identity through the use of movies and TV shows, using the newest film version of Mary Queen of Scots and Outlander as interesting case studies.

Last, but definitely not least, IRC member Alastair Mackie presented his research on “Becoming a smaller part of a larger whole: new expressions of European identity in the Scottish independence movement”

The EU referendum and the ensuing negotiations on Brexit have resulted in Britain entering a liminal phase of change without a foreseeable ending, Alastair argued. Within this transformational context, European identity is being understood in new ways and with new meanings. For some it is a defiant expression of connection: a root and a route to the rest of Europe; for others it is also an expression of disconnection between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom and is incorporated into the support for Scottish independence. Alastair’s presentation explored results of an ongoing PhD research project on the perception of European identity in post-Brexit Scotland with a particular focus on the relation between European identity and small state vulnerability.

After a short break, it was time for our round table discussion on The Impact of Brexit in Scotland. The Moderator was Mrs Ann Packard FRSA HonFRIAS, Chairman, RSA Fellows (i) Borders and (ii) Media, Creative Industries, Culture & Heritage Networks.

Members of the panel were:

Luke Devlin (Heriot-Watt University)

Anthony Salamone (Scottish Centre of European Relations)

Dr Mairi McFadyen (Local Voices and the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics)

Prof Ullrich Kockel (Heriot-Watt University)

Dr Cristina Clopot (Heriot-Watt University – University of Hull)

Svenja Meyerricks (Centre for Human Ecology)

The round table discussion brought useful insights from a range of disciplines interested in heritage, Scotland and Brexit. There was talk of liminality, uncertainty and loss at all levels. A dynamic redefinition of identity was also explored in the context of vulnerability and division.

After a long day of thought and discussion, it was time for our cultural event, kindly sponsored by the Heriot-Watt Confucius Institute. The event included:

A Chinese zither performance

A traditional tea ceremony

Chinese calligraphy

Whose name is this? Answers on a postcard! 🙂

Chinese paper-cutting

Our talented Confucius Institute colleagues gave our keynote speaker Dr Tuuli Lähdesmäki  a paper-cut portrait to take home with her as a gift.

We tweeted throughout the event using the hashtag #IRC2019 – however we soon noticed that we shared this with the equally successful International Rubber Conference Organisation that was taking place on the same day J

Until our next IRC Symposium in 2021 !

DESIGNS Project : Wrapping up

By Audrey Cameron & Jemina Napier 

May 2019 

In this blogpost, Jemina Napier and Audrey Cameron provide an update on the work that has been done on the DESIGNS project (promoting access in employment for deaf sign language users in Europe) since our last blog/vlog in October 2018.

The project is coming to an end on 30 June and most of the work in the past 6 months has been focusing on developing training materials, running pilot workshops for employers, sign language interpreters and deaf people and disseminating the project data:

Training – workshops

2018.11.08    Employers’ workshop in partnership with Vercida in South Bank                                           University

2018.12.07    Sign language interpreters’ workshop in Antwerp, Belgium – DESIGNS team

2019.03.05    Masterclass workshop for deaf people, sign language interpreters and employers – in partnership with Deaf Action and Deaf2Work in Deaf Action, Edinburgh

2019.03.27    Employers’ workshop in Heriot-Watt University

2019.04.27    EDSU & CDY’s ‘Studying your way into employment’ seminar in Prague, Czech

Dissemination

2019.02.23    Deaf Spaces in the Workplace conference in York St. John’s University, York – organised by Dr Dai O’Brien and other speakers were Dr Nicola Nunn of UCLAN and Mette Sommer of Heriot-Watt University https://youtu.be/mKWhTV29CP8

2019.03.05    EdSign lecture in University of Edinburgh

2019.04.09    Employment of sign language users in Europe – Policy & Practice Implications at European Parliament – hosted by Helga Stevens – to present project research findings – Adam Kosa MEP  and the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (developing EU strategy for employment for disabled people). 

Up to the end of June, we are continuing to finalise the training materials and filming case studies for the DESIGNS project website.  The next update is due in June where we will introduce the finalised material.

Below is an English translation of the update that is presented in BSL.

Hello! (both)

Jemina: We’re here to give you an update on the DESIGNS Project, which is to do with deaf employment and interpreting. The last project update was November last year, so we thought it was high time we let you know what we’ve been doing over the last 6 months.

Audrey: … yes, we’ve got a lot to tell you.

Jemina: We’ve got a number of things to cover so we’ll alternate between us. So, the first thing to say is that we’ve been out there delivering a lot of training sessions – sorry I need to refer to my notes here to remind me of everything we’ve done…..  Audrey and I went down to London to run a training session for employers in partnership with an organisation called Vercida, who encourages employers of large organisations to recruit disabled people and embrace diversity; when larger organisations are looking for advice about how develop a more diverse workforce, Vercida are the people they go which also makes them a perfect fit for fits perfectly this project.  Vercida helped us find three employers but we were hoping to have more but really this session was more of a pilot.

As part of the DESIGNS Project, we interviewed employers, deaf sign language users and interpreters and we shared our research findings with those employers so that if they were looking to recruit deaf people they would have an idea of what it’s like and we could see that they found that really useful. From the evaluation at the end there were clearly things they hadn’t known about deaf people and interpreters, so they definitely found the session helpful.

We used that session to help us to develop another Master Class that we delivered here in Edinburgh in partnership with Deaf Action, which is a local deaf community organisation based in Edinburgh. We developed and ran this in conjunction with their employment service and interpreting service and some other people from here at Heriot Watt…

Audrey: … and from Deaf2Work…

Jemina: … yes Tony Barlow, who is a deaf employment consultant has a company called Deaf2Work so we all worked in conjunction with one another deliver this Master Class. What was really interesting was that we had a group of employers (some of whom had experience of working with deaf people and some who didn’t); a group of interpreters and a group of deaf people.  We started the day together and then spit into our respective groups and we tailored the content accordingly. Then we all came back together to watch a role play of an interview involving an interpreter, a deaf person and an employer and that was fascinating and generated a lot of valuable discussion.

Interpreters’ session
Employers’ session
Deaf participants’ session

… Audrey and I were also involved in delivering a training workshop with the rest of the consortium over in Antwerp for a group of about 40 sign language interpreters from all over Europe (both deaf and hearing) with some having travelled some considerable distance to get there. We presented a lot of the findings from the DESIGNS Project plus again using roleplays, we gave to them an idea what it’s like interpreting for job interviews. That was really interesting and a good experience…

Audrey: … a lot of them wanted to know how to work with deaf people at job interviews which was clearly a worry for them and I think the training was really useful in that respect.

Jemina: So altogether that’s 4 training events we’ve delivered and even more recently Audrey went to the EDSU The European Deaf Students conference in Prague…

Audrey: … yes…

Jemina … and ran a workshop on the DESIGNS Project at which she talked about deaf employment, creating a CV and the barriers deaf people face around employment. This was for students all of whom are currently studying at University level and starting to think about their career path… that was a two hour workshop…

Audrey: … two and a half hours

Jemina: … so another two and a half hours linked to the DESIGNS Project which is good. That’s those 4 different training workshops covered. Ok, now I’ll hand over to you Audrey…

Credit to EDSU

Audrey:   Jemina and I have not just been focusing on training; we’ve also been out there disseminating the data and the findings from the DESIGNS Project. Since November we’ve attended a number of events. The first was in York at St John’s University, which was organised by Dai O’Brien who’s been doing research on what employment for deaf people is like in Higher Education. I, along with Mette Sommer (who is a PhD student here at Heriot Watt) and Nicola Nunn for UCLAN also gave presentations and incorporated our experiences of working in that environment with interpreters. That was a good conference and there were a lot of people there…

Jemina:… and lots of questions and a great deal of interest in the project.

Audrey:   Jemina and I have not just been focusing on training; we’ve also been out there disseminating the data and the findings from the DESIGNS Project. Since November we’ve attended a number of events. The first was in York at St John’s University, which was organised by Dai O’Brien who’s been doing research on what employment for deaf people is like in Higher Education. I, along with Mette Sommer (who is a PhD student here at Heriot Watt) and Nicola Nunn for UCLAN also gave presentations and incorporated our experiences of working in that environment with interpreters. That was a good conference and there were a lot of people there…

Jemina:… and lots of questions and a great deal of interest in the project.

Audrey: … they were very keen to have the training pack that will help people get into work and that’s one of the aims for the project …

The second dissemination event was back in March where we’d been invited to present at one of the ‘EdSign’ series of lectures at the University of Edinburgh which are run by four universities – Queen Margaret University, Heriot Watt and Edinburgh… that’s only three isn’t it Jemina?! … sorry it’s three not four! So as I said they invite different speakers to come along and we presented for a couple of hours… or was it an hour?

Jemina: … about an hour…

Audrey: … for a hour and that went well. It was also live streamed; we’ll put the link up so you can watch our presentation if you’re interested. 

Link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtBj16gxjQw&feature=youtu.be

… and thirdly we were recently at the European Parliament – Helga Stevens who is deaf and an MEP hosted an event at which she invited us to share the our findings from the DESIGNS Project. We were able to present these to MEPs and the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion came along to listen and I think he soon realised the need to deliver better access to employment and that was good… that was in April.

Jemina: Really that was the last ‘official’ event of the DESIGNS Project because now we’re starting the process of bringing things to a close and finishing off.

We held the last project meeting the day before the event at the European Parliament. All the other project partners gathered together to work out what we still had left to do and to make sure we tidied up any loose ends and then the next day we were at the parliament.

Audrey: But we’re not finished just yet. The report still has to be written and we are filming case studies with employers, deaf people and interpreters for the website and what else…? And then working on the training pack which will also be put up on the website. Then, when absolutely everything is done we’re going to have another Facebook livestream where we’ll be showing you what resources we’ve got and that will be soon – when do you think that will be Jemina?

Jemina: … probably later in the year. Here at Heriot Watt, the project officially ends at the of June; after that we’ll have a few things to tidy up and unfortunately that’ll mean Audrey and I will no longer be working with one another on the project… but who knows maybe we’ll get to work again on something in the future… we’ll see… 

Audrey: But this project has been so worthwhile doing…

Jemina: There will also be more information coming out in BSL – for example, there will be a BSL version of the summary of the research report and summaries of some of the training materials Audrey mentioned so we’ll be back with more information about those another time.

Bye!