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.  

ITI Webinar by Ramon Inglada (LINCS) on the Thorny Issue of Payment Rates for Machine Translation

Ramon Inglada, Assistant Professor in Spanish and Translation Technologies in the Languages and Intercultural Studies department at Heriot-Watt University, was delighted to accept the invitation from the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) to talk about the ever complex issue of payment for Machine Translation (MT).

This invitation came after a successful presentation on MT given by Mr. Inglada for ScotNet, the ITI Scottish regional network, which covered general concepts related to MT (from types of MT engines to quality levels).

The ITI presentation, which attracted an online audience of almost 200 translation industry professionals, was more specifically focused on MT pricing models, with the general aim of raising awareness about the different alternatives and recent developments in this area.

The presentation began by highlighting the complexity of this topic given all the different factors at play. It made the case for professionals working in machine translation post-editing (MTPE) projects to move away from the idea of having a unique word-based rate for all such projects and to explore the possibility of charging a dynamic per-word or hourly rate based on project conditions (such as quality of the source content, quality of the MT output, language combination and deadline). The concept (developed, among others, by Corinne McKay) of using objective data to set translation rates based on a calculation of billable hours and a target hourly rate was also discussed.

The webinar then proceeded to analyse different well-established pricing methods currently being used in the translation industry in order to establish MTPE pricing models (with options including proofreading rates, dynamic ranges for specific MTPE rates, hourly rates and Translation Edit Rate, also known as TER). After this, other more novel alternatives in this field were mentioned (including the potential use of pricing algorithms or special higher rate percentages for certain content), as well as the possibility of introducing a model of standard pricing for this type of projects across the industry.

The presentation gave rise to a very lively 1-hour long Q&A session, with plenty of challenging questions and insightful audience comments. After more than 2 hours the webinar was brought to a close, with the general feeling that, even after a very extensive and useful discussion and exchange of ideas, MTPE pricing models remain a complex and multi-faceted issue that will undoubtedly continue to be the subject of passionate debate for many years to come.

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


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.


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.


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.


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
Tel: +44 131 451 4216

“InterTrainE update – our online credit-bearing course is ready!

InterTrainE NewsletterDecember 2020

Welcome to the fifth 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

Baby news

Congratulations to Alastair Mackie (HWU) who became a Dad in July! Alastair, his partner Zoe and baby Mikkel are doing great. This is the third new member of the InterTrainE team, with Kalli Rodopoulou (EELI) and Kate Sailer (CLP) also welcoming bundles of joy last year 🙂

Our course is ready!

We are very happy to announce that our online course is now ready and freely available through our platform! http://intertraine.eu/moodle/

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.

Joint Staff Training Event highlights

Our online Joint-Staff Training Event took place on 16th-20th November. The JSTE was hosted by KEKAPER – Region of Crete, sadly not in Rethymno, but on Zoom. 22 participants from the 7 partners in 4 countries were trained on the basis of the InterTrainE course, provided feedback and critically evaluated the course content and impact.

Some highlights from the week’s activities:

On Day 1, we focused on Module 1: Basic Principles and Concepts. We discussed interculturalism and intercultural education in the context of critical adult education. We looked at dimensions of privilege and their role in the classroom. This discussed included power dynamics in intercultural classrooms, motivation, language of instruction, languages of learners, empowerment and co-construction of knowledge.

Day 2 focused on Module 2: Intercultural Competences in the Context of Migration. We discussed stereotypes, bias, uncertainty, trauma, deskilling, confidence, motivation and empathy. Not bad for one module!

Day 3 focused on Module 3: Adult education practices in intercultural contexts. We revisited group dynamics in intercultural classrooms, and discussed racism and discrimination in the classroom with relevant case-studies. When we finished, Yannis asks us to state one word that we would take away from today. We all agreed on “Inspired”!

Day 4 was focused on the final module, Module 4: Impact and Global Citizenship. We discussed our role as educators, taking into account everything we had learned and discussed so far. We looked at both personal and social impact, which sparked a debate on age and gender bias.

Who says the online medium limits engagement? We had a long and interesting discussion on Intercultural v. Global education.

On Day 5, which was the last day of the JSTE, we focused on case-studies prepared by the participants. These case-studies and personal stories sparked a discussion on the importance of empathetic listening and attitudes as opposed to judging isolated behaviours. An interesting debate followed on politics in the classroom, languages in the classroom, group work and group dynamics, and the difference between individualist and collectivist cultures.

That’s a wrap!!! We are all still buzzing. Cheers! متشکرم Grazie Gracias Kiitos Ευχαριστούμε Faleminderit

We have analysed the JSTE feedback and made minor changes to course material in response to participants’ recommendations. Our External Evaluator, Dr Jim Crowther also provided us with comments and an evaluation of the final course. We are very grateful to our external evaluator for his feedback and guidance. His expertise and engagement with the project are invaluable.

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

Next stages

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, all our remaining activities will take place online until the end of the project in February 2021. Our national Multiplier Events and our project’s Final Dissemination Event will take place in the coming months.

Watch this space for the dates of our national multiplier events and for our project’s Final Dissemination Event, when the course will be formally presented!

In 2020, many aspects of our work and our lives changed and we are being affected in ways we could not imagine. Online education has a more crucial role than ever before to support and connect learning communities. Stay tuned and check out our activities on our website   http://intertraine/eu

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  

Our next and final newsletter will be out in February 2021, so stay tuned!


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

Tel: +44 131 451 4216

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

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


Tel: +44 131 451 4216


The INCS in LINCS 2019-2020

LINCS stands for Languages and INterCultural Studies and our core purpose is to create multilingual, multicultural, global citizens. To achieve this, the “INCS” in LINCS also specialises in Cultural Studies such as living cultural heritage, intercultural dialogue, migrant identities and intercultural communication. 

Our Cultural Studies section manages the cultural studies courses and programmes we deliver. Courses include Global Heritage, Cross-Cultural perspectives on Society, Intercultural perspectives on Sustainable Development, as well as the Global Courses (taught in all HWU campuses) Intercultural Issues in Business and Management (Undergraduate – also offered as part of Graduate Apprenticeship programmes), and Intercultural Communication in the Workplace (Postgraduate). It also manages our MSc Cultural Heritages programme family, which includes our MSc in Cultural Heritage Management with Tourism. Cultural Studies staff and students are also members of our Intercultural Research Centre (IRC).



Katerina Strani is the Head of the Cultural Studies section. She has a background in Languages and Political Theory and her PhD thesis (2011) focused on communicative rationality in the public sphere. Her research is interdisciplinary, and she is interested in how multilingualism and multiculturalism shape contemporary society and politics at all levels. Following an EU-funded project on hate speech and racism (RADAR), Katerina has developed a keen research interest in race relations and the language of racism. She has published papers on these topics, as well as intercultural dialogue from the perspective of belonging and heritage, discourses of Europeanness and hate communication. She has led EU-funded projects in intercultural training for educators, mobile tools for refugees and newly-arrived migrants as well as for learning indigenous languages, and has participated in a GRCF-funded project on digital tools for Rohingya refugees in SE Asia.

Katerina teaches International Politics, Society and Institutions in Contemporary Europe, Intercultural Issues in Business and Management and Conference Interpreting. She is a Chartered Linguist, a Member of the Political Studies Association, the International Communication Association and the University Association of Contemporary European Studies. For a list of publications and funded projects, please click here.

Email: A.Strani@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @KaterinaStrani 

Máiréad Nic Craith is Professor of European Culture and Heritage. Máiréad’s academic career began with a lectureship at the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies, funded as a result of the Irish Government’s commitment to the Anglo- Irish Agreement. Subsequently, she was Director of the Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages at the University of Ulster, set up in the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement to undertake cross-community research, teaching and outreach activities. During that time, she collaborated with government and charitable organisations, such as the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages, Derry City Council, Diversity 21, the Ulster American Folk Park, and the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. Collaborative projects included a commissioned report for Fermanagh District Council on cultural and linguistic policy. She led a report on African migration in Northern Ireland commissioned by the Community Relations Council, and organised a symposium on peace agreements and (mis)communication (in honour of the Nobel laureate John Hume). In 2007, she was invited by the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Washington, to prepare a brief relating to culture and language issues in Northern Ireland. Since her arrival to Heriot-Watt University in 2012, Mairead has developed links with national organisations such as the National Library of Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland, and international organisations such as POLIN (Museum of the History of Polish Jews). Having collaborated with organisations such as the UN in Geneva, the Scottish-Polish Heritage Project in Edinburgh and the Community Relations Council in Belfast, she is deeply committed to enhancing awareness of the potential of heritage to make a positive contribution to society (see her TEDx talk on Intangible Heritage 2015). From 2016- 2019, she was involved in a HORIZON 2020 European-wide collaborative research project on cultural heritage and social identity and cohesion. For a complete list of Máiréad’s publications, please click here.

Email: M.NicCraith@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @mairead_nc 

Ullrich Kockel is Professor of Cultural Ecology and Sustainability at HWU, as well as Emeritus Professor of Ethnology at the University of Ulster and Visiting Professor in Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas. He has a diverse academic and professional background, switching from a career in industrial management (Shell) to academic positions in Economics, Political Science, Sociology, and later Irish Studies and Ethnology. In 2003 he was elected to the Academy of Social Sciences and in 2012 he was elected to the Royal Irish Academy. 

Ullrich’s overarching research interest is in sustainable local and regional development, especially the appraisal, planning and management of heritage and other cultural resources, approached from an interdisciplinary perspective rooted in anthropology, cultural ecology and political economy. He has conducted fieldwork and led projects throughout Europe. He is currently leading a work package in a €2.5m Horizon2020 project, CoHERE, on cultural forms and expressions of identity in Europe. For a complete list of Ullrich’s publications, please click here

Email: U.Kockel@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @KockelU

Kerstin Pfeiffer is the Director of Undergraduate Teaching Programmes in LINCS. Her academic background is in literature and history, and her PhD work focused on new theoretical approaches to medieval biblical drama. She is secretary for and co-founder of the BASE (Bodies, Affects, Senses and Emotions) working group at the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF) and was the School of Social Sciences representative on Subject Panel B (Design, Visual Arts, Architecture, Creative Writing, Film, Drama & Theatre Studies, Cultural Policy (Policy, Arts Management & Creative Industries), Music, Television Studies) of the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities for 3 years.

Kerstin’s current research interests lie in the area of theatre and performance studies and particularly in the investigation of the afterlives of older dramatic forms and the role of drama in shaping, maintaining and challenging notions of identity and community. She has published on these topics and presented her research at many international conferences. For a list of Kerstin’s publications, please click here.

Email: K.Pfeiffer@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @DrKPfeiffer 

Claudia V. Angelelli is Professor and Chair in Multilingualism and Communication. She is also Professor Emerita at San Diego State University and Visiting Professor at Beijing University of Foreign Studies. Her research sits at the intersection of sociolinguistics, applied linguistics and translation and interpreting studies. She designed the first empirically-driven language proficiency and interpreter readiness tests for The California Endowment and Hablamos Juntos (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation). She has been PI in research projects in Argentina, Australia, the European Union, and the United States. She has also led ISO 13611: Standards on Community Interpreting and co-authored The California Standards for Health Care Interpreters. Ethical Principles, Protocols, and Guidance on Interpreter Roles and Interventions. She teaches Intercultural Communication in the Workplace and Translation and Interpreting Studies. For a full list of publications, please click here

Email: C.Angelelli@hw.ac.uk

John Cleary is Associate Professor and Director of Studies for Exchange Programmes. With a background in Applied Linguistics, English and TESOL, John teaches British Culture & Society, Film Studies, Introduction to Languages and Intercultural Studies, and Society and Institutions in Contemporary Europe. He has coordinated many projects on internationalisation, pedagogy and intercultural communication in Europe, Turkmenistan and South-East Asia. For a list of John’s publications, please click here.

Email: J.A.Cleary@hw.ac.uk

PhD students

Chiara Cocco – Cc80@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Festivals and folklore through the lens of affect and emotions: the case study of Sant’Efisio in Sardinia, supervised by Máiréad Nic Craith and Kerstin Pfeiffer

Chiara’s research explores the relationship between cultural heritage performance and collective identity construction. Drawing upon previous studies and theories which analysed national and cultural identity construction in sites of heritage and memory (Knudsen, 2011; Arnold-de Simine, 2013; Wight, 2016), in this research the focus shifts from museums to ceremonies. The thesis suggests that dynamic heritage avenues, such as folklore and festivals, could be also considered “places” of identity construction. It also explores the dynamics of identity construction and representation in festivals, through the lens of emotion and affect (Smith, 2006). For this purpose, the research adopts the Festival of Sant’Efisio in Sardinia as its case study, mainly because of its popularity among Sardinian population and visitors, and its longevity (it has been celebrated in the island every year since 1656). Moreover, as a Sardinian woman who has been living in Scotland for over five years, Chiara considers this festival as part of her cultural heritage and Sardinian belonging. Her research is, therefore, also a means through which she can keep connected to her original home despite the physical distance. Twitter: @ChiaraCocco88 

Jos Collins – jc120@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Living Tradition and Cultural Revival: Scottish Folk Drama in the 21st Century, supervised by Kerstin PfeifferGary WestNeill Martin and Donald Smith.

Jos’s research project results from a partnership between the IRC, Celtic and Scottish Studies (University of Edinburgh) and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland (TRACS, Scottish Storytelling Centre). It examines the reasons behind the resurgence of interest in this old art form and folk custom and its cultural implications. It seeks to investigate the motivations for participants and what these can tell us about modern attitudes to concepts like tradition and authenticity. The main aim of the project is to explore the place of revived folk drama in contemporary Scottish society through the following objectives: to produce a survey of Scottish folk drama activities today; to examine community-led performances and related activities ethnographically; to evaluate the motivations and aspirations of participants and organisers and to assess their contribution to aspects of local identity, ideas of tradition, and community dynamics; to investigate how folk drama as a living practice contributes to developing conceptualisations of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Scotland; and to contribute to the newly emerging ‘Creative Ethnology’ movement led by the three institutions involved. 

Naomi Harvey – neh1@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Collecting and preserving access to Intangible Cultural Heritage within the digital environment: Evaluating New Models for Scotland, supervised by Máiréad Nic Craith and Ullrich Kockel. Co-supervision from heritage specialists is provided by Alistair Bell, Sound Curator, National Library of Scotland and Scotland’s Sounds Project Manager, and Dr Hugh Hagan, National Records of Scotland, whose expertise includes oral history and community heritage. 

This research is funded by the AHRC through the Scottish Cultural Heritage Consortium Scholarship, 2016-19. It critically examines issues surrounding digital preservation and access to ICH in Scotland, through the case study of Scotland’s Sounds. The project will examine how Scotland’s Sounds can ensure the sustainability of ICH sound collections, encompassing issues of: (1) collecting sound in a digital environment (2) digital access and preservation of sound material; (3) sustainable relationships between creators, community organisations and public institutions. The aim is to provide a theoretically informed critical analysis of the opportunities and challenges that advances in digital technology present for heritage organisations seeking to enhance the value, profile and understanding of ICH. Twitter: @ArchiveGnome

Lucy Lannigan – lml5@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: ‘Sustainable Communities and Cultural Heritage Management: A closer look at the Isle of Skye’, supervised by Ullrich Kockel and Kerstin Pfeiffer

With a focus on local communities, this thesis will analyse the sustainability of communities on the Isle of Skye and how concerns over growing tourism have affected the cultural heritage of this island. The aim is to provide practical advice and analysis in order to better manage the relationship between local communities and the tourism industry, in relation to sustainability and cultural heritage management. The theoretical framework will focus on the link between sustainability and cultural heritage management, discussing how we can develop and nurture the future sustainability of communities on the Isle of Skye in terms of heritage and culture. Emphasis will also be placed on external factors such as social and traditional media, as well as the Bridge to Skye, detailing how this has impacted the local communities, tourism industry, overall economy and daily lives of the islanders. This thesis will address the necessity in taking measures to ensure that tourism growth can be effectively managed in the present and subsequent future, in relation to sustainability, to ensure that the cultural heritage of the island is preserved and that the relationships fostered between the local communities and the tourism industry remain positive.

Alastair Mackie – am279@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: ‘Becoming a smaller part of a larger whole: changing perceptions of European identity in the Scottish independence movement’, supervised by Katerina Strani and Ullrich Kockel.

This thesis explores how the perception and understanding of European identity has changed in Scotland since 2014. Is the adaptation of European identity for the purposes of supporting independence merely a political, strategic use of collective identity, or has the debate on EU membership resulted in a wider transformation of the role of Europe in identity formation in Scotland? By means of ethnographic fieldwork, this project aims form a better understanding of the function of Europe within the identity formation of people in Scotland since the Brexit referendum. The thesis aims to link the ethnological study of European identity to concepts of vulnerability and shelter from small state studies. If Scotland were to become an independent state it would be considered a small state in Europe. Due to their size, small states have less resources than larger states, making them more vulnerable to their external environment. Small states may seek ‘shelter’ with larger states or international organisations to counteract their vulnerability. The thesis will ask how perceived vulnerability influences the formation of European identity and whether European identity offers a form of shelter by being conceptualised as a support for Scottish independence. Twitter: @asbmackie

Catherine McCullagh – cjm5@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: ‘Curating Heritage for Sustainable Communities in Highly Vulnerable Environments: The Case of Scotland’s Northern Isles’, supervised by Ullrich KockelDonna Heddle and Ian Tait.

Catherine is undertaking practice-based research with people in the archipelagos of Orkney and Shetland. Her research is funded through an SGSAH ARC Studentship. The research practice is a project to co-curate a virtual museum of the Northern Isles, and is funded by Museums Galleries Scotland, the Hugh Fraser Foundation and Shetland Museum and Archives. Catherine’s interests include creative ethnology; exploring the radical politics of co-curation as a mode for communities mobilising shared authority and cultural democracy towards more socially just and sustainable futures; collaborative deliberation of value formation and social learning for sustainable development; identity-work; and developing new ways of knowing and working through praxis. For more information on Catherine’s background and research, click here. Twitter: @kittyjmac and @NorthernNousts

Marc Romano – mhr7@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Brexit and Heritage Futures in Scotland: The Auld Alliance – Establishing a Counter-Heritage, supervised by Katerina Strani and Máiréad Nic Craith

As one of the longest relationships in the history, the Auld Alliance challenges the recent Brexit discourse, which seeks to establish a new geography outside of Europe. In its pursuit of a separatist utopia free from bonds of European policy, Brexit offers a fictionalised geography that denies Scotland’s seven centuries of European cultural belonging. Marc’s PhD research is an exploration of the Auld Alliance as a re-reading of Scotland’s heritage discourse with a view to establishing a counter-heritage (to that which lies in the wings post-Brexit), one that establishes an identity that cannot readily disentangle itself from European culture. In a country where almost 20% of its population are in fact from foreign origin and in which 5% of the total population came from European Union, such political discourse endangers its multicultural stability. Perhaps it is reflection of why Scotland voted to remain at 63%.  

Ozge Yalinay – oy30@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Interpreting Istanbul Grand Bazaar as a traditional marketplace: contemporary cultural discourse, supervised by Babak Taheri and Máiréad Nic Craith This research is intrigued by work of cultural discourse scholars, including Foucault, Said and Bakhtin, whose theory of cultural consumption space provides with the conceptual vocabularies such as ‘orientalism’ and the ‘third space’. These spaces are unusual, anti-structured and exceptional. Framed within such notions, the material and imaginary landscape of Istanbul Bazaar offers such venue for cultural consumption experience in non-Western context. The primary aim of this study is to bring together contemporary cultural discourse in a traditional marketplace, with particular focus on the Istanbul Bazaar, testing the usefulness of such theory as an interpretive framework in a specific exceptional space in non-Western context. More specifically, this study aims to offer insight into an understanding of Western consumers’ journey and experience, examining the dynamic process that flows from pre-visit to post-visit. The mixed-method approach is used to collect data from both visitors and locals in order to answer the aim of this study. The qualitative approach is applied using observation, netnography and interviews, while the quantitative approach is applied using questionnaires. For a list of Ozge’s publications, please click here.

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


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.


Sign language researchers talk research!

By Jemina Napier

Click here to see a version of this blogpost in British Sign Language (BSL).

While I am on research sabbatical from Heriot-Watt University I am fortunate to be spending my time as a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh (see here for overview of what I am working on).

As part of my fellowship I have been able to avail of IASH facilities to organize a workshop with a leading scholar in the field of Deaf Studies, Dr Annelies Kusters, to bring together a small group of researchers who work with sign language data. The 2-day workshop took place on 25-26 October 2018 and was by invitation only. Our priority was to invite deaf and hearing researchers that are fluent British Sign Language (BSL) users, and who are currently grappling with issues either to do with the analysis of qualitative sign language data, or are exploring new and innovative qualitative research methods. One of the reasons we wanted to ensure that everyone is a fluent BSL user is because we wanted to avoid holding discussions through interpreters, to allow for more in-depth and organic discussions. And this certainly worked!

The majority of the 12 attendees were my colleagues and PhD students from the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University, but we also had several attendees from other UK universities and also one Finnish university.

The first day (Thursday) was dedicated to the discussion of different approaches to data analysis, and the second day (Friday) was devoted to methodologies. Each participant was asked to give a 15-minute presentation about their topic and we built in plenty of time for discussion. The projects being conducted by the group range from experiences of deaf people seeking asylum in Finland, documentation of Indonesian Sign Language, explorations of professional and labour migration among deaf sign language users, family sign language policy, deaf tourism in Bali, video remote sign language interpreting in police settings, different perceptions of sign language interpreting, and experiences of deaf business owners, deaf professionals and deaf parents in social work contexts. As you would expect, such a range of projects calls for a range of approaches to data analysis and methodologies. Over the two days the following key issues were discussed:

  • How and whether to anonymise video data
  • Whether to directly code from sign language data or translate and code from written (representative) texts – and if so what and how to translate
  • Use of different software for coding (such as ELAN, Atlas.ti or N-Vivo)
  • Processes for deciding what and how to code
  • How to code observational fieldnotes, and saturation of observational data
  • Thematic coding as an organic or planned process
  • Using visual methods for data collection and analysis – eco-maps, photos, film-making, social media networking sites
  • Data coding fatigue
  • Benefits of documenting analytical decisions as part of the research process
  • Value of having conversations with others about coding/ annotation/ analytical processes
  • Challenges of how and what to code
  • Power dynamics in interviewing participants
  • Positionality and the observer’s paradox
  • Reflexivity in planning, reviewing data collection and data analysis
  • Ethics of recruiting and interviewing disadvantaged people, and methods for gaining consent
  • Building rapport and trust with research participants
  • How to create semi-authentic simulations of sign language (interpreted) interactions
  • Interviewing directly or through interpreters
  • Methods for taking fieldnotes

This exploratory workshop was a huge success, so we hope to make it an annual event, and open it up to other sign language researchers. Many of the issues we dissected are not unique to sign language researchers by any means, but being able to come together and have the space to have open and frank conversations about our work in sign language was a rare and much valued opportunity. We are considering a proposal for an edited volume based on the format of this workshop, so hopefully that will be a book that we can add to the IASH library one day!


This blogpost was first posted on the IASH website on 6th November 2018: http://www.iash.ed.ac.uk/news/sign-language-researchers-talk-research


Moving Languages project finished!

by Katerina Strani

We are very pleased to announce that our EU-funded Moving Languages project has now come to an end! The 27-month project (2016-2018), led by Learnmera Oy in Finland with LINCS at Heriot-Watt as a partner, developed a free mobile application designed to help new migrants learn the host language(s) and familiarise themselves with culture-specific vocabulary and concepts. A user-friendly, versatile and comprehensive app, it also aims to encourage people to learn other languages and promote understanding between cultures.

The Moving Languages app provides a gamified language- and culture-learning tool. It contains 4000+ illustrated vocabulary items for easy concept recognition, grammar exercises, flashcards, reading comprehension, listening comprehension, culture, administration, health and immigration tabs, dialogues with audio, audio spelling and comprehension tests and many other features. The app covers topics that are essential during the first steps of living in the host country. 

Users can learn English, Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, Finnish (main languages) from 20 support languages widely spoken by refugees/migrants in partner countries:

Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Estonian, French, Hungarian, Kurdish (Sorani), Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Somali, Tigrinya, Turkish, Ukranian, and Urdu

They can also use the main languages as support languages if they wishes. This means that if you download the English app, you can learn English from 25 languages in total.


We launched the app at an event held in June 2018 and held our final meeting in Bilbao on 4th October 2018 to finalise the app and the project. It has been a pleasure to work with our international partners in this project and to engage with users who have tried our app.

The project may have ended, but our apps will be available for free for the next 3 years, so please download them, try them, and send us your feedback!

You can download the English app here:

iOS https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/moving-languages-uk/id1389806713?mt=8

Android https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ml.english

To download the Spanish, German, Italian, Finnish and Swedish language apps, please click here.

For a step-by-step guide on how to use the app, please click here

For more information, contact the UK coordinator, Dr Katerina Strani A.Strani@hw.ac.uk or the project coordinator Veronica Gelfgren Veronica@learnmera.com

Website: http://www.movinglanguages.eu/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/movinglanguages/

LinkedIN: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8580234

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/movinglanguages/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MovLanguages