BSL Science Signs Workshop at Gallaudet University

Gary Quinn, from the BSL section of LINCS, was invited to give a presentation about BSL Science Signs at the STEM Sign Language Lexicon Founders and Leaders Workshop at Gallaudet University in Washington on 2nd March.

This photo of Gary is courtesy of Dr. Erin Moriarty-Harrelson (one of the Mobile Deaf team). The man next to Gary is an interpreter, working from BSL to International Sign.

He gave a presentation about Ethics in relation to developing BSL Science Signs. The workshop aimed to develop principles that other countries could be encouraged to develop or expand upon in relation to signs for STEM terminology.

The BSL Science Signs Glossary was one of earliest to develop Science Signs, starting back in 2007, and the team have introduced their methods and approaches to the representatives of other countries who were also present at this meeting. This event was the first step towards preparing the first international conference for STEM signs, to take place next year.

The annual Multilingual Debate is back on campus!  

LINCS hosted its annual multilingual debate on Wednesday 29 March. It was wonderful to be back on campus after an interruption of 3 years, to relaunch this special occasion on site.

This annual event has been running for more than twenty years now, and although it was disrupted by the pandemic and had to be held online in 2021, it is now back on our lovely campus.   

We welcomed high-school pupils from across Scotland in the James Watt Auditorium for this exciting annual fixture. The event is very much a joint venture, as it is supported by the school, by recruitment and by marketing, by estates and facilities, and by our internal AV services.  

We also benefit from the support of external partner AV Department, who supplied the equipment needed for interpreting and a team of specialised sound engineers to manage the complex equipment throughout the debate.  

We were honoured to welcome a panel of distinguished speakers: the French Consul Mme Laurence Pais, the Spanish Consul Mr Ignacio Cartagena, the co-director of the Scottish Confucius Institute for Business Dr Ping Zhang, Dr Mette Sommer-Lindsay and Juliette Rutherford from LINCS, and former MSc student Julia Honnacker. They all joined in the discussion and presented their arguments either in favour or against the motion:

“This house believes that social media is the best vehicle for free speech”.

Our guests’ statements were followed by engaging contributions from the 320-odd budding linguists from Scottish high schools who were in attendance, and they presented their questions in a number of the languages covered by our interpreters.  

Each of our guests and audience members were able to contribute to the debate in their native language thanks to our M.A. and MSc students. They provided live interpreting from French, Spanish, German, British Sign Language and Chinese, and worked back into these languages and more during interventions in English.  

It was a fantastic opportunity for our interpreting students to apply their skills to a genuine multilingual event, thus gaining a taste for what professional life will be like. It also gave high-school pupils a fantastic insight into the type of careers that are open to expert linguists, as well as a chance to visit our beautiful campus. The event has inspired many linguists who went on to join LINCS as students, and some of whom are now working for the European Institutions as conference interpreters.   

Sign Neologisms workshop in Athens

In February 2023, Gary Quinn, from the BSL section of LINCS, attended the Sign Neologisms workshop in Athens, Greece, to present an e-poster about the BSL Glossary Project on workflow and ethics.

This workshop focussed on how signs develop for new terms in European countries. It brought together many different specialists working on lexical gaps and new words in sign languages from various perspectives.

It was hosted by EASIER, an EU Horizon 2020 project that aims to design, develop, and validate a complete multilingual machine translation system that will act as a framework for barrier-free communication among deaf and hearing individuals, as well as provide a platform to support sign language content creation.The aim of the workshop was to gather lessons from this collective experience to support the development of machine translation for sign language.

Forty-eight specialists from multiple professions (architecture, animation, avatars, computer science, linguistics, lexicography, deaf education, interpreting, mathematics, poetry, software development, translation, etc.) attended, from eleven countries: Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland, Switzerland, and the United States.

More info here:

Roundtable on starting work in the audiovisual translation industry

Hybrid event: 30 March 2023 at 02.30 BST

Are you interested in a language career, but don’t have a foreign language up your sleeve?

Are you a talented bilingual or multilingual, but not sure what to do with those amazing talents?

Are you a cinephile who dreams of rubbing shoulders with films directors and script writers?

Are you a Youtube or Tiktok aficionado who would like to raise your profile by subtitling your clips?

If this sounds like you, then come and join us and our guest speakers either in person at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Business School, LUMSDEN Suite North, EH14 4AS or online.

To join us online or in person, please register here:

Come and discover the different careers paths: timecoder, transcriber, audio description, Subtitling for the Deaf and Hard of hearing, and many more.

During this session, our guest speakers who are all practitioners will be sharing their experience and providing tips to anyone aspiring to get a foot in this thriving industry.


Gabriella Büki, a freelance translator in the medical, scientific and pharmaceutical sectors as well as a subtitler and subtitle template creator for global streaming platforms.

Monika Svecak, vendor manager at Plint, and has also extensive experience as a subtitler.

Johanna Theng, senior vendor manager at Plint. Johanna is a trained translator and subtitler who’s been working on the project management and vendor relation side for the past 16 years.

Karli Webster, a free-lance subtitler since completing the Spanish and Applied Language Studies course at Heriot-Watt University in 2016. Karli’s key interest is in Subtitling for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Michel Virasolvy, a free-lance subtitler with more than 11 years of experience in various projects aimed both at the general public and corporate departments.

Elena Zini, Screen Language director, is a subtitling, translation and accessibility consultant with over 10 years’ experience in the field.

We will try to take as many questions as possible on the day, but if you want to make sure your questions are not missed, go ahead and post it on our Event questions forum:

Silent Harm Project Launch – Domestic Abuse Questionnaire

By Jemina Napier & Lucy Clark

This blogpost is a translation from a vlogpost generated in British Sign Language (BSL):

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 an exciting new project. You may have seen previously that Jemina and Lucy worked on a project called Justisigns 2, which focused on developing support for deaf women who have experienced sexual, domestic, or gender-based violence and best practices for interpreters and support service providers to work together in this context, with a focus on police officers (see for v/blogposts about the project)

The Justisigns 2 project created a number of different training materials and resources through research interviews with deaf women, interviews with police officers and also a survey of interpreters and support service providers. Take a look at the Justisigns 2 website for more information about those resources.

This new project however, has been funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), along with the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) through a Scotland-Ireland Bilateral Network Grant. This extension to the project aims to expand upon and continue the work that was done in the Justisigns 2 project, using the materials that were developed in relation to training police officers and interpreters to work together to support deaf women who report domestic abuse.

This RSE-RIA project is focused on supporting deaf women who live in rural areas in Scotland and Ireland. We know that through the COVID-19 pandemic, the reporting of domestic abuse increased significantly amongst the general population, and furthermore we know that deaf women are two or even three times more likely to experience this kind of abuse than their hearing counterparts.

This joint project will deliver training to police officers and sign language interpreters who live and work in three different rural settings in Scotland and two rural areas in Ireland. We hope to encourage a better understanding of the situation for deaf women in reporting domestic abuse, as well as best practices for working together to increase support to deaf women who are in rural areas. These women may have more negative experiences due to their isolation and may not know how to report the abuse that they experience.

The 6-month project commenced in January 2023, and we’ve already completed our first task in relation to the Police Scotland ‘Domestic Abuse Questionnaire’ (DAQ). Many deaf women reported to us that they are confused by what the DAQ is and what its purpose is. It is simply a mechanism to support police to get a fuller idea of what’s been going on in a domestic abuse situation. There are 27 questions that are asked, and some of them often may not feel very relevant to the particular situation under investigation. It’s important that a holistic view is taken of the situation in terms of what’s been happening and what has happened in the past so that police and other frontline workers can collect a full picture of the evidence and then they can charge any perpetrators appropriately. So, the DAQ really needed explaining in an effort to enable deaf women to understand what’s in the DAQ and why it is used.

To explore the understanding of the DAQ we held a workshop bringing together three representatives from Police Scotland – one police officer who has a specific role in promoting BSL and working with the deaf community and the other two police officers work in the domestic abuse coordination unit, so they have the background and expertise in the area of domestic abuse. We also brought in a representative from interpreting agency JustSign, which operates in Scotland and specialises in providing interpreting for legal settings such as court and police interviews, along with a representative from Deaf Links, a Scottish deaf community organisation that currently has a project focused on supported deaf women who report domestic abuse. All those stakeholders came together with Jemina and Lucy to discuss the DAQ, and the complexities of some of the questions that made them difficult or challenging to interpret into BSL.

We decided not to try and translate all 27 questions, but rather to clearly go through the DAQ process step by step plus create an explanation about what the DAQ is in BSL for deaf women, so they understand why the police have to follow the very strict order of questions in this fixed process.

We wanted to ensure that because the process of asking all the DAQ questions can take some time, that deaf women understood the DAQ process and the fact that they have to clearly detail information so that police officers can get a full picture. We want to assist to improve this process, make it smoother and clearer. So, the representatives have taken note of which DAQ questions are complex and difficult to translate and are taking steps to try and simplify some of the questions or the ordering of questions. This work we have done on the DAQ we hope will make a real impact on the experiences of deaf women reporting domestic abuse, that may also benefit all women.

We will soon begin rolling out the training sessions. The three sessions in Scotland will take place at the end of March (in Galashiels down by the Scottish Borders), in mid-April (further north in Inverness) and the end of May on the West coast of Scotland in West Dunbartonshire. In Ireland, there will be two training sessions held in April and May in different locations.

At the end of the project we will also be delivering ‘Train the Trainer’ workshops in Scotland and Ireland for people who train police officers and interpreters so that they can think about how to incorporate information about deaf women’s experience of domestic abuse in the training. This will enable us to provide a longer lasting and continuing impact from this project.

Watch this space for more v/blopost updates!

Another LINCS graduate joins the European Institutions

LINCS is delighted to celebrate the success of former student Erika Kadlçikova, who recently joined the Council of European Union as a full-time Czech translator.  

Erika joined the Languages and Intercultural Studies department in 2015. A native-speaker of Czech, she was keen to consolidate her already excellent English and was able to make the most of the freedom of movement still available at the time to all EU citizens to come and do the MA in Applied Languages with French and Spanish. She picked up Spanish from scratch, making the most of the Intensive Beginners pathway available to all students who arrive with only one of the core EU languages offered on LINCS programmes. Erika already dreamt of an EU career and was aware that English and two of the core EU languages would stand her in good stead to achieve her goal. Thanks to her hard work and to the support of the Spanish section, she was able to quickly bring her Spanish skills up to speed, and she graduated from the MA with a first-class Honours degree in 2019.  

On the back of her MA, Erika was able to build up a portfolio of valuable experiences, first teaching English in Spain, then branching into English content creation for websites, while developing her translation and proof-reading freelance business.  

To further her chances to achieve her dream of working for the European Institutions and to add to her skills-set as an expert linguist, Erika then decided to move back to Scotland and do the LINCS MSc in Translation. The MSc enabled her to hone her existing translation and interpreting skills, and to add translation-related additional skills, such as subtitling. She subsequently secured work as a subtitler, and was involved in a number of projects like sitcoms, series and films for Netflix and Disney.

Throughout her training, Erika also had access to information about EU careers and opportunities which helped her plan her next move. She successfully applied for a number of prestigious and very selective traineeships with European Institutions following her second study spell at Heriot-Watt: she became a trainee with the Secretariat General of the Council of the EU, then with the Renew Europe Czech Delegation, before being selected for a traineeship at Euractiv, with a focus on French translation. 

This wide range of experiences, accumulated over a period of only a few years, despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, led to Erika securing a full-time post as translator in the Czech unit with the Council of the European Union in February 2023.  

Even though Czech is not one of the languages offered on LINCS programmes, the training is very focused on skills and techniques. Erika was able to apply these transferable skills, developed throughout her MA and MSc, to other language combinations with her native language. She valued the multilingual community she found on our campus, as it enabled to her to further consolidate her English and reach a very high level of proficiency in French and Spanish. In her own words, “the translation and interpreting courses at HWU are mostly practice-oriented, which makes them stand out amongst competitors and also makes you, the future graduate, more confident and employable”.  

Heriot-Watt summer school dates announced

The Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University is delighted to announce our 2023 Summer School in Translation and Interpreting, both online and in person at our Edinburgh campus.

All the details are given below, including links to the detailed description of each CPD course on Eventbrite. If you have any questions, please get in touch with us at

In person:

Week 1. Introduction to Interpreting course, 3 days (18-20 Aug 2023) and 5 days (18-22 Aug 2023): Information and tickets are available here:

Week 2. Translation Summer School, 4 days, 21-24 Aug, 2023. Information and tickets are available at

Week 3 English Retour Interpreting (Advanced), 3 days (25-27 Aug 2023)

and 5 days (25-29 Aug 2023). Information and reservations are available at

Week 3. British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreting Summer School (Advanced), 5 days (25-29 Aug 2023).

Online weekend courses:

Week 1. Introduction to Interpreting course (7-9 July, 2023)

Week 2. English Retour Interpreting (Advanced) (14-16 Jul 2023). Information and tickets are available at

1-day CPD courses as follows:

Remote Interpreting for British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreters

Online 13 May 2023 Information and tickets are available at

On campus 26 June 2023 Information and tickets are available at

Intercultural awareness in the workplace. 1-day cpd.

Online 17 June 2023

In person 24 June 2023

We are applying an early bird and HW alumni discount of 10% on all courses until 28 February 2023. All course registration closes on 30 April 2023. Courses are limited to 20 participants per course on a first-come first-served basis.

For additional information and updates, please see our website: or contact us at

If you are considering to enrol in more than one course, we can offer you an extra 15% discount on any additional course. Please get in touch with to get a link to pay for two or more courses together.

12th annual careers event a great success! 

For the 12th consecutive year, the Languages and Intercultural Studies department has held its annual Starting Work as a Translator or Interpreter event, co-organised by Fanny Chouc (LINCS) and Camrie Hole (Career Services). 

This event, initially launched in 2011, ran successfully online during the pandemic, and drawing from the experience, it was adapted this year to combine the best of both modes: a series of informative and insightful talks were held online and were open to all, and it was followed by a networking event on campus, exclusively for Heriot-Watt’s students and alumni.  

The aim of SWATI has always been to bring together industry representatives, practitioners and professional bodies, to give prospective translators and interpreters a more thorough understanding of their chosen industry and enable them to get valuable advice from professionals on how to get started.

This year’s line-up featured Morag Neath, the Head of the English booths at the European Commission, Fraser Brown, one of the project managers from Global Language Services (who catered for all language services for COP26), but also talented alumni and conference interpreters Roxane Schüller-Green and Rebecca Ritchie, translation project manager Daniel McLeod and freelance translator Bex Elder.  

Over 330 people joined the online talks and were able to ask questions from our distinguished panellists, showing that the interest in multilingual communication remains strong and relevant in our globally connected, multicultural world.  

The follow-on networking event took place in the Carnegie Lounge, offering a friendly environment for discussions with our additional guests Vineet Lal, experienced literary translator and regular Book Festival contributor, Eleonore Walper, who has worked in many sectors as a translator and interpreters, Sophie Adlington, in-house financial translator with EVS and Ramon Inglada, Convenor of ITI Scotnet. Panellists Roxane Schüller-Green and Daniel McLeod were also able to join in person. 

Participants valued hearing about the many “ways that they can boost their experience and CV”, praising the “diversity of invited speakers” and deeming the whole event “great”. LINCS and Career Services are already looking towards planning SWATI 2024, and hope to reach even more budding expert linguists.  

Thinking of a career as a translator or interpreter?

Join us for our annual SWATI event!

Our annual Starting Work as a Translator or Interpreter event will take place on Wednesday 8th February. We are delighted to open our online talks to anyone interested in careers in translation and interpreting. Note that the 2nd part of the event, the networking session, is reserved to Heriot-Watt LINCS students and graduates only. 

PART ONE:  Online Panel Session – OPEN TO ALL

Wed 8th Feb: 2pm-4pm [Registration Link HERE]

This online part of the event will include contributions from employers, alumni, and practitioners will give you an insight into different translation and interpreting career paths and advice on starting out. The event will cover the following:

  • Working with agencies
  • Working with European institutions
  • Understanding various professional pathways in Translation and Interpreting and knowing where to start

The line up will be confirmed ASAP, but we have some great speakers who can hopefully inspire and empower you to feel more confident about a starting a career in interpreting and/or translating.

PART TWO:  Networking Session (Carnegie Lounge, JWCC) – Heriot-Watt LINCS graduates and students only

Wed 8th Feb 5pm-6.30pm: [Registration Link HERE]

This informal networking event will give you an opportunity to speak with previous Heriot Watt graduates who have gone on to carve career paths in the Translating and Interpreting industry.  You can find out what first steps they took, what worked (and what didn’t) and create some professional connections all at the same time. 

Another Heriot-Watt graduate heading for the EU interpreting booths in Brussels! 

Gavin Darroch may have completed his MA in Languages with Interpreting and Translation (French and Spanish) during the first lockdown, graduating in June 2020, but it hasn’t stopped him from securing what he describes as his “dream job” less than 3 years later: he is now a fully accredited EU interpreter and will be starting work in the booths in Brussels in the coming months.

The lengthy selection process, which started back in the summer of 2022 and included simultaneous tests and consecutive tests, gives him a very sought-after EU accreditation which “unlocks a wealth of opportunities” because, as he rightly highlighted: “the system is inter-institutional, so EU-accredited conference interpreters can work for the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Court of Justice of the European Union”. In some instances, the EU even shares its pool of high-profile interpreters with the UN, opening further exciting prospects for Brussels-based professionals. One such interpreter and fellow Heriot-Watt graduate has in fact recently moved from the EU booths to the UN ones in New York!  

Gavin’s achievement is no mean feat: he is only 25, a very young age to join the select ranks of the EU-accredited interpreting team, and only holds a British passport. He grew up in the Highlands, in a monolingual household, and studied French and Spanish at high school, before starting at Heriot-Watt on the Chemistry with a European Language course. He soon realised that languages were his true calling and became a fully-fledged LINCS student on the LINT programme.  

His desire to study languages was fuelled in part by an event that LINCS is bringing back on campus this year, on Wednesday 29th March: the annual Multilingual Debate. Gavin attended the event while in high school and was left “awestruck”. Languages won him over completely:  

“During my time on the LINT course at LINCS, I fell in love with conference interpreting and set myself the goal of one day becoming an EU conference interpreter. It still doesn’t feel real to say that I’ve achieved this goal. I did it!” 

To achieve his aim, Gavin drew from what he describes as the “endless passion, dedication, encouragement and expert guidance – both during and after my undergraduate course” of staff in the department. Additionally, he was able to benefit from the many EU-led sessions available to MA and MSc students, thanks to the established partnership between LINCS and DGI-SCIC, the European Commission’s Directorate General for Interpreting. As part of this collaboration, Gavin had access to pedagogical visits led by EU interpreters, as well as virtual classes, and receiving feedback and guidance from EU interpreters was “invaluable”, in his words. This type of experience provided students with a real “motivation boost” and consolidated his determination to one day work alongside these inspiring professionals.  

Following his graduation, Gavin knew he qualified for the entry requirements for the EU accreditation tests. However, drawing from the advice gleaned from professionals and industry insight built into his studies, he decided to consolidate his experience as a linguist, working for two years as an in-house translator. These two years helped him get his bearing in the T&I industry, but his goal remained the EU booths, so he started the application process while simultaneously beginning a postgraduate degree in Conference Interpreting in a bid to further polish his interpreting skills. But his initial training came in handy as he passed the simultaneous tests in October, only a few weeks into his further academic training. The simultaneous tests are now the first hurdle in the EU accreditation process, and Gavin successfully passed the last one, the consecutive tests, mid-January.  

When asked what advice he would give budding linguists and current students, Gavin said: “the demand for interpreters with English as their mother tongue has never been higher, so now is the perfect time to set your sights on an international institution like the EU”. And he hopes to soon be joined by more fellow Heriot-Watt LINCS graduates in Brussels!