Wrapping up the JUSTISIGNS 2 project

By Jemina Napier & Lucy Clark

Link to this blogpost in British Sign Language (BSL): https://youtu.be/LHeslk5osUg

In this v/blogpost Jemina Napier and Lucy Clark from the SIGNS@HWU team in the Centre of Translation & Interpreting Studies in Scotland (CTISS) at Heriot-Watt University discuss wrapping up the Justisigns 2 project, which focuses on the experiences of deaf women who have experienced gender-based violence (GBV).

You may have seen the three previous v/blogposts with respect to the project that introduced the project, provided an update on progress on the project, and discussed the development of a BSL glossary as part of the project.

This is our final v/blogpost because the project has come to an end on 31st of December 2022. So, we wanted to provide a final update on what we’ve achieved.

It is somewhat unbelievable that more than a year has passed already. We’ve learned so much and we want to acknowledge and thank all the various participants: stakeholders and advisory group members including Police Scotland, Scottish Women’s Aid, Wise Women; deaf community organisations including Deaf Action and Sign Health, the Association of Sign Language Interpreters UK; and deaf women, deaf Independent Domestic Violence Advisors and interpreters, who all have contributed to the project.

As a result of the support for this project we have been able to develop a glossary and translate key terms into BSL with input from various people. We have hosted various workshops and have met so many amazing people and received advice and been able to give consideration to different issues concerning experiences of GBV.

We’ve also given webinars to interpreters, to police officers, people who do policing research through the Policing Domestic Abuse Research Network, to the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) and they also invited us to present at at the annual SIPR conference in 2022. There are so many things that we have been able to do.

Most recently in November 2022, we delivered a masterclass which involved police officers, interpreters and deaf women, where we talked about how we can best work together if a deaf woman reports an experience of domestic abuse or GBV, so that interpreters and police officers understand how to best work together to provide access to support for deaf women.

We have also provided workshops to deaf women in collaboration with Deaf Links and Deafinitely Women, providing them with information about what we mean when we talk about abuse, their rights, and how they can keep themselves safe. How to identify if a relationship is not healthy. Lucy has delivered training to several groups of deaf women. And it was really wonderful to see them empowered through that experience and develop more confidence through being able to ask questions in BSL and understand how best to keep themselves safe.

Lucy has also interviewed eight deaf women throughout the UK about their experiences. They didn’t talk about the actual violence that they experienced but what happened once they reported, i.e., could they get access to interpreters? Was it a smooth process? Did they feel comfortable? What were the issues were for them? Through the analysis of their interviews this has fed into the development of a documentary that we’re producing, which will be made freely available and we will share information about that in due course. We wanted to represent the stories of deaf women, but we have anonymized their stories so we can include their stories in the documentary because we think it will be a very powerful resource for police officers, interpreters and anybody that supports women through experiences of violence, in particular so they can get some insight into the experiences of deaf women. This documentary will show the authentic experiences of deaf women. At a later date the documentary will be made available as a video resource through the Justisigns 2 website.

The website will include various resources, including a training manual, fact sheets, guidelines and other information, drawing on evidence of what needs to be improved and how key stakeholders are acknowledging the need for improvement. So we hope that the outcomes of this project will be able to change things for the better. We also have will have an extensive report available through the website, which will be accompanied by an executive summary in English and Spanish and also in British Sign Language and other sign languages. These resources will be available at a later date through the website so anyone will be able to explore those resources which will be made freely available to all.

Finally, we have some exciting news. Although unfortunately, the Justisigns 2 project came to an end at the end of December 2022, we’re delighted to announce that we managed to secure some new additional funding. It’s for a six-month follow-on project that will basically take all the materials and resources we developed through the Justisigns 2 project to deliver training in rural areas in Scotland and in Ireland to police officers and interpreters. The funding is from the Royal Society of Edinburgh for a Scotland Ireland bilateral network grant funded jointly with the Royal Irish Academy. So, this means that we’ll be able to continue the work that we’ve been doing with our Irish partners at Trinity College Dublin Centre for deaf Studies on the Justisigns 2 project for the next six months. We will work with TCD to deliver three workshops in Ireland and three in Scotland in rural areas. We’ll also continue to work with our partners here in Scotland, namely Police Scotland and Deaf Links which is a deaf community organisation based in Dundee, and in Ireland with the Garda Síochána (Irish Police) and the Irish Deaf Society. The project began on 9th January 2023 and will continue until the end of June 2023 We will provide updates on that project at a later date. You can see the press announcement here: https://rse.org.uk/rse-ria-supports-research-empowering-deaf-women-surviving-domestic-violence-in-rural-areas/

We are looking forward to this project as it means we can generate real impact from our Justisigns 2 project. If there’s anything you want to share with us about your own relevant experiences, do get in touch.