JUSTISIGNS 2 project

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

By Jemina Napier & Lucy Clark

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

Following on from our last v/blogpost, 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 provide an update on what they have been doing as part of the Justisigns 2 project.

The wider project focuses on how to support victims and survivors from deaf and migrant communities with their experiences of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (DSGBV), 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.

Below is a translation of the blogpost presented in BSL.

JEMINA:          We’re back! It’s been some time since our last blogpost, which we did in 2021 when Lucy first started work on the project. So we’re here to give you an update of what we’ve been doing with the Justisigns 2 project.

Firstly, we administered two surveys – one to service providers who provide support to women that have reported incidents of DSGBV, and one to interpreters (of all languages) about their experiences of working in this context. We have analysed those results, and they will be published later. The results are interesting because it seems that both service providers and interpreters feel they need more training about how to work together. So, the service providers want to know how best to work with interpreters, for example, how to identify if they’re qualified and if they’ve had any specialist training around DSGBV situations; and the interpreters said that they felt they didn’t understand the terminology, the jargon…

LUCY:               Yes, that is right, how to sign things or how to explain certain things and that perhaps one word could have different definitions in the DSGBV context.

JEMINA:          So, the interpreters said that they also would like training. Fortunately, one of the goals of the Justisigns 2 project is develop training resources for interpreters and support service providers, and we’re working on that at the moment. I will hand back to Lucy to tell you about other things we’ve done.

LUCY:               We held an event back in March 2022 for International Women’s Day. It was so nice, a very successful event that was well attended by many older deaf women. This was interesting as it helped us to think about what the younger generation think about DSGBV issues too. We provided small workshops, for example, training on safety and well-being, how to look after your health, for people have experienced abuse how to report it and how to engage in self-care has part of your recovery. We also had presentations from the police, who gave information about how to report incidences of DSGBV and everyone seemed to really get a lot out of it. It was a very relaxed environment which made it conducive to talking about this specific sensitive issue, and serveral people asked us for more events. We delivered a webinar. Unfortunately I was sick and couldn’t attend, so over to Jemina to tell you how that went.

JEMINA:          The webinar was aimed at interpreters to share the survey results and the training needs identified through the survey. I think there were about 70 interpreters that attended from all over the UK and internationally. A lot of the discussion was about how much interpreters would really like to get access to specialist training on this topic.

We will also be doing some other presentations coming up for Police Scotland and for the Policing Domestic Abuse Research Network about the survey results and be the deaf perspective on this topic.

Last year (in 2021), we also had a roundtable with deaf Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) and interpreters to talk about their roles, what is important to include in training, what they need in their respective roles and how best to work together, which was very useful. From all of these different events, we identified that we need to develop some kind of glossary in BSL. So, Lucy went about researching key terms…

LUCY:               Yes, it was important to identify key terminology as we realised that perhaps people might think it means one thing but there could be other meanings and especially in relation to the DSGBV context. We used our networks to get support to identify important terminology and did some research into what these terms mean. By developing a BSL glossary of these terms, it will support many deaf people that might not be familiar with these terms.

JEMINA:          Also, this glossary will be helpful for interpreters if they find themselves working in this situation, then they will be able to do some research and preparation using the BSL glossary.

At the end of last year (2021), we held an initial workshop on Zoom between deaf and hearing interpreters and support service professionals who have experience of working in DSGBV contexts to begin to discuss these glossary terms. But we agreed that it would be more productive to proceed with a face-to-face workshop. So, we are hosting approximately 15 people in Edinburgh in May 2022, including representatives from Police Scotland, to discuss about these terms, whether there are established signs or the best ways to sign them. And then we will re-film and make the BSL glossary freely available through our website for both deaf people and for interpreters.

LUCY:               It is really nice to see the involvement from Police Scotland because obviously the police are often the first point of contact so we can work with them to identify gaps in knowledge, for example, if deaf people want to report incidences, so we can try and make sure that the process is as smooth as possible: for interpreters so they know how to interpret the jargon, that the police understand about deaf culture and that deaf women know how to ask for help from the police. It feels good to know our project will make this difference.

We have also interviewed several deaf women and we are in the process of summarising and identifying the key themes that have emerged from those interviews. The interviews did not focus on DSGBV incidents themselves, but on what happened once they had reported an incident of violence, for example: Did they get the right kind of support? Could they find an interpreter? Were they directed to the right services? How did they communicate? And so on. We really wanted to tap into those experiences, and from that data we will be able to create some recommendations for the police and other support services about the best way to support deaf women in these contexts and to understand from the beginning to the end of the process, what information needs to be given.

JEMINA:          In addition to creating a summary and writing up the data, we are also planning to make a mini-documentary to illustrate the experiences of deaf women. We will bring in actors so that we can keep our interviewees anonymous and protect their identities. But we think it’s important that the deaf community are able to see this information in BSL and hopefully, this documentary could also make an impact on hearing organisations about the experiences of deaf women.

So, we’ve been busy!

LUCY:               We have been really enjoying the work. If any of you have any questions or if any of you want to know more, please do contact us (Email: L.Clark@hw.ac.uk/ Twittter: @JUSTISIGNS2) so it can feed into our research on this topic.

JEMINA:          And we will be back with another update later on in the project. Thank you.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

INterpreter-mediated Mental Health Act Assessments (INForMHAA)

Project update

Celia Hulme & Jemina Napier

Click here for the blog post in BSL


I am Jemina Napier, from Heriot-Watt University, and I am Celia Hulme, from the University of Manchester, and here we provide an overview of a project that we are both involved in as part of a research team.

The aim of the project is to explore mental health and interpreting but very specifically how AMHPs (Approved Mental Health Professionals) work alongside spoken language interpreters or sign language interpreters, particularly if an individual needs assessing under the Mental Health Act (in England). The person may be unable to access English written or spoken, for whatever reason, so the interpreter and the professional need to work together. Very little research has been done in this area, so it’s a very important and novel project.

The INForMHAA project has been funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), under the School of Social Care Research and it is funded for 18-months. It is an interdisciplinary project bringing together professionals from various backgrounds. 

We have a team of six people on the core research team, all from different backgrounds bringing different expertise and experiences. Firstly, we have Alys Young, Principal Investigator on the project. She is at the University of Manchester, a Professor of Social Work and brings a social work perspective, and also a Deaf Studies perspective. Then, we have, Jemina Napier, Co-investigator on the project, who is from Heriot-Watt University, a Professor and Chair of Intercultural Communication and the Director of Research for the School of Social Sciences, bringing perspective as a sign language interpreter and someone that trains interpreters and also uses BSL. Next, we have Dr Rebecca Tipton, another Co-investigator on the project. She is also from the University of Manchester and she lectures in Translation and Interpreting Studies, and speaks French. Next, we have Dr Sarah Vicary, who is also a Co-investigator on the project. She is from the Open University and is the Associate Head of School of Nations. She is also a registered qualified social worker and has been for 30 years, and she brings a social work perspective. We also have Dr Natalia Rodriguez Vicente from the University of Essex. She lectures in Modern Languages, Interpreting and Translation, and she is also a Spanish speaker and works as a postdoctoral research associate on the project. And Celia Hulme who is from the University of Manchester and is a final year PhD student in health research and I am involved in the INForMHAA project as a research assistant bringing a deaf perspective, but also a PPIE perspective. Jackie Wan Brown has recently joined the project as an intern as part of her NIHR funded pre-doctoral programme.

Project Advisory Group

With respect to the Project Advisory Group, it’s really important as a research team to have an advisory group as we have knowledge about the research process but we also need people to advise whether they are AMHPs, social workers and also interpreters; they are experts in their field. We set up an advisory group so that throughout the process of doing the research, we make sure that their personal and professional experiences are included. We also want to include key stakeholders, interpreters, both for spoken and sign languages, but also people that work as AMHPs and even teach AMHPs and go through that process.

The aim of the advisory group is to meet once every three months. So, we get together on a regular basis to talk about the research, we update them as to what we’ve been doing and how things are going. We ask them to contribute any ideas, resources that we could use such as academic literature, policies, and legislation. Also, anything that they would like to recommend that they know about, for example key contacts if we are trying to recruit people, so we also use their network alongside ours. When we produce our preliminary results, we will ask them for feedback in the results and methods. We will work alongside them to promote the research through their networks and contacts; hopefully recruit people and make sure that this research has a real strong impact. It is a really important group to have involved in the project. Hopefully at the end of the research when it’s all been completed, they will help with dissemination as well through their networks. It is an ongoing process, not only for a limited time. We are hoping that they will support in the long term as well.

Patient and Public involvement and Engagement (PPIE) group

The PPIE group is for people that are not on the Advisory Group. These are a different group; they may be service users themselves or have direct experience of being assessed under the Mental Health Act. Their inclusion in the project is of real importance so

that is why we have a PPIE group. Our aim is to recruit eight members, all from different backgrounds, because the project is focused on Interpreter-Mediated Mental Health Act Assessments, we need to get people who have direct experience of working with interpreters and being assessed by an AHMP. So, we need to reflect their background.

We are trying to make sure we have diverse representation, so, we may have different language speakers on the panel, but also people with different skills and experiences.

When we recruit individuals, we don’t get going straight away, we will train the panel members to enable them to be effective panel members.  We give them information as to

what PPIE means, the research process, and then we will get them involved in the research project. They are involved in different tasks such as project design, where we will ask their opinions. They can get involved in data collection also in dissemination of the research, be potential authors, attend conferences, present findings from the study to difference audiences and pass on information on our behalf. So, they are going to be very busy in the project.

Scoping review

The scoping review is an important part of the project. What we need to do is try to understand what research has been done in this area and how our research can fill a gap in knowledge. It’ really important for us to identify this gap. People talk about literature reviews, that is one way of doing it, but our project is different because its social care research. We will be doing something different and it is referred to as a scoping review. So, this helps us identify what’s been published, and what research has been done in the area, but not only academic research. It could be things that have been published such as policies, legislation, any information pertaining particularly to the Mental Health Act assessments.  We have a strict inclusion and exclusion criteria that we must follow. For example, we are interested in research to do with mental health and interpreting but would not be interested in health interpreting generally. We try to narrow it down and understand particular research about mental health. We try to identify the gaps to make sure our project aims are covering a gap and giving new knowledge. It is a long process, and we are currently in the process of filtering the research, checking, agreeing what we will and will not include. We are going through that process at the moment and that’s just one of our methods. 

Mixed-methods research

There are two phases to the project, and each phase is different. This is a mixed-methods study, so we are not only using one method but several. One method, is the scoping review, which is taking place in Phase 1. But we also want to find out the experience of the AHMPs and the interpreters, and we are getting that information through a survey questionnaire, also in Phase 1. There are two surveys because the questions are different for interpreters and AHMPs. In the survey, there is an option for them to agree to be involved in an interview so they can talk in more detail about their experiences.

Phase two involves what we call ‘simulated practice’ and what we envision will happen is

people will observe a Mental Health Act assessment taking place, so there will be

an AHMP with an interpreter, in BSL or a spoken language, doing an assessment with other

individuals (from the advisory and/or PPIE groups) observing this happening.  We will then discuss what has worked well and if there were any issues that we need to think about. This will help us develop training materials. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided that everything has to take place online.

We are lucky that Zoom has different options and a special function that we can turn on that allows you to provide different language interpretations, so different spoken languages can be used simultaneously. Our aim is to adopt a multilingual approach.  So that means AHMPs could speak English, and the individual being assessed could use BSL or a different spoken language and people can listen to different language options or watch BSL interpreters. And then after the simulation is finished we will gather their thoughts and opinions on the process and what that felt like. We want to ask them different questions using a poll. We have trialled several different options to see what works well so that people to contribute their views. We’re still in midst of that. We are currently piloting what works well. Then, we will work out the situation and what that is going to look like. We will start developing that soon, so it’s very exciting.

Data analysis

In terms of the analysis, we will use various different methods. For example, for the survey, we will be using descriptive analysis and may use statistical analysis. For the interviews, we will use something called the phenomenological approach which allows us to examine the individuals and their experiences. For the simulated practice, we will using different approaches. We will be analysing the interaction between the interpreter, the assessor, the service user, or the carer. We will be using software tools GoReact and ELAN. So, we will use both to analyse the information.

So, that’s the overall project.

Knowledge Exchange and Information Exchange (KEIE)

We also have a responsibility to share our findings. We have to make sure that research is accessible and has an impact and will benefit those people concerned. For example, service users, AMHPs and interpreters, so we do this through KEIE. We will publish papers but the main foundation and principle behind our project is accessibility, making sure information is accessible. So, we will disseminate information in English, in sign language like we’re doing today with this vlog. But also, we want to try to make it available in different spoken languages. We will have a website where these different language options are available and everything will be available in sign language. We will post regular updates as we go along that will be on the website, so that people can engage and see the information we are putting out there. We will also host workshops, deliver presentations at academic conferences and for professional organisations and communities, making sure that people are aware of what is going on with the project. For example, we delivered a workshop to NIHR SSCR, who funded the project and we talked about accessibility, what that means and how we designed our project with accessibility in mind using a multilingual approach and how we have embedded the principle of accessibility in the whole research design that will hopefully continue long after the lifespan of the project.

Website & Resources

A website is currently being developed for the project. There will be information and guidance available on the website at the end of the project. We hope to create some training materials, guidelines for interpreters working with AMHPs and guidelines for AMHPs working with interpreters plus, these resources will be free and available online, so anybody interested in the topic can download these materials, whether they teach AMHPs or are interpreters, they will have access to these materials as well.

Moving Languages English Application now live and available!



The Moving Languages English Application launch took place on Friday 8th June at the George Davies Lecture Theatre, Esmée Fairbairn building, Heriot-Watt University.

The Moving Languages application is the result of an EU-funded project led by Finnish organisation Learnmera Oy, with LINCS at Heriot-Watt as one of the partners. The app is 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.

Our mission is to help combat linguistic and cultural isolation, which is proven to be one of the key barriers to the successful integration and inclusion of migrants. There are plenty of generic language-learning apps on the market that are not designed for the needs of refugees or newly-arrived migrants. While the Moving Languages app is not designed specifically for these groups, it also caters to them, with features such as:

  • Targeted support languages
  • Culture tab
  • Administration and Immigration tabs
  • Dialogues with Audio

This free application 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, Ukrainian, 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.

The UK project coordinator, Dr Katerina Strani, presented the background, the project outputs and the research that led to the development of the app, before hooking up her phone to the projector and presenting the app in real time.


Some feedback from participants in the launch event who tested the app:

“The App is easy to use, you learn a new language and culture in a funny way

Well done.

It’s very self- explanatory, especially the fact that you don’t have to press a continue button after a correct answer makes it very user-friendly.

Easy to use.

It’s very snappy, clear and easy/fluid to navigate.

I think that this application is easy to use and it’s a good way to learn the basic expressions of a foreign language.


It looks great, well done!

Useful and Innovative: the culture part offers practical information that other language learning apps don’t offer (HS – related info, for example).

This is a very good app. It addresses key issues around language learning and the social inclusion of immigrants.”

You can download the 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

We would love your comments as we continue to update the app and fix bugs until the end of the project in November 2018. Please give us your feedback here:  https://goo.gl/forms/eJwXXtep1BTDz76B2

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


This project has been funded with support from the European Commission under Project No. 2016-1-FI01-KA204-022678

Moving Languages – English application launch !

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Moving Languages – English application launch

Friday 8th June 2018,   18:00 – 20:00

Esmée Fairbairn building Lecture theatre – EF26

Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton Campus


The Moving Languages application constitutes an EU-funded project designed to help new migrants learn the host language(s) and familiarise themselves with culture-specific vocabulary. A user-friendly, versatile and comprehensive app, it also aims to encourage people to learn other languages and promote understanding between cultures. Our mission is to help combat linguistic and cultural isolation, which is proven to be one of the key barriers to the successful integration of migrants. The project is led by Finnish organisation Learnmera Oy.

 This free application provides a gamified language and culture-learning solution. It contains 4000+ illustrated vocabulary items for easy concept recognition. It will be available for download from all major app stores from June 2018. 

Users can learn English, Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, Finnish (main languages) from 20 support languages, widely spoken by refugees/migrants in the partner countries: Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Estonian, French, Hungarian, Kurdish (Sorani), Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Somali, Tigrinya, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu.

Are you a user of any of the main or support languages? Do you work in the languages or intercultural communication industry? Then join us at the launch of the English version of the Moving Languages application!

The event will be followed by a feedback session and a drinks reception for an opportunity to find out more about the project.

The event is free but spaces are limited, so please register here:


Details on how to get to the venue will be emailed to registered participants.

For more information, please contact the UK coordinator, Dr Katerina Strani: A.Strani@hw.ac.uk

Project flyer in English: Moving Languages Flyer ENGLISH

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


This project has been funded with support from the European Commission under Project No. 2016-1-FI01-KA204-022678

Reporting from 14th ETMU Days conference: ‘Race, Power and Mobilities’

Dr Katerina Strani led a working group on ‘Cross-cultural understandings of Race’ during the 14th ETMU Days conference themed Race, Power and Mobilities, which took place at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland on 26-27 October.

The working group was put together to examine cross-cultural understandings of race in the context of increased mobility and migration.

Minna Seikkula presented a paper on ‘The nexus between Anti-Racist Activists’ Conceptions of race/racism and migration’. Minna’s paper explored (dis)connections between racism and race/coloniality through an analysis of antiracist activists’ conceptions of racialized relations and practices in connection to migration. In Finland, as a part of the Nordic countries, speaking of racism often contains many paradoxes that are intensified by the current polarized political debate. For instance, Nordic self-perception is built on ideas of equality and democracy, while the eugenic pasts and their traces in the present are actively excluded from the grand narratives of the nation states. Race and racism are repeatedly seen relevant mainly or only in relation to migration, which can been seen to re-inforce the (false) image of white, homogeneous nation-states – yet, welfare state practices governing migration are often seen as neutral (or even anti-racist).

 Minna’s paper compared the views of activists reacting to heightened presence of the extreme right, as well as those demonstrating solidarity to newly arrived migrants and those articulating Black, Brown and Muslim identities. In the analysis, the focus was on the question of how racialized oppression is connected to or disconnected from the continuum of coloniality, which reproduces a world divided between west and the rest through racialized borders. The analysis is based on interview data with 47 antiracist activists in Finland.

Next, Marta Padovan-Özdemir presented a paper written with Trine Øland on ‘Refugee Arrivals, Helping Hands and Hearts and Racialised Welfare Dynamics in Denmark, 1978-2016’. Marta and Trine’s abstract was as follows: “In the Summer of 2015, in all European welfare nation-states professionals, policy makers, administrators, and civil society organisations were in highest alert over the major refugee arrivals from Afghanistan, Syria, and the African continent. In Denmark, in particular, the government responded with stricter border controls and containment of refugees in temporary tent camps. Local administrative bodies and ngo’s contributed with panics about the managing of the new refugee groups. This state-of-alert is particularly interesting in a historical perspective of earlier Danish responses to the arrival of new refugee groups: The Afghans in the 2000s, the Bosnians in the 1990s, the Iranians in the early 1980s, the Vietnamese in the 1970s, the Jewish Poles in the late 1960s, the Hungarians in the 1950s, and not least, the Germans in 1945-46. The above-identified state-of-alert points to professional and civil confusion, disruption, and anxiety about not being able to manage a presumably new target group with the cultural repertoires already available. This state-of-alert crystallises welfare problematisations of the new target groups and becomes an occasion for the mobilisation of joint forces to manage and solve the imagined problems, thereby generating new tasks and needs for the helping hands and hearts.

This paper’s objective is to gain insight into continuities and breaks in re-presentations of the refugee, and on that background understand the welfare dynamic, which is mobilized in response to the arrival of new refugee groups.

The analysis builds upon critical studies of Danish welfare state developments and draws historical and analytical inspiration from Donzelot’s genealogies of the double pathologization inherent in welfare work. This is combined with Fanon’s underscoring of the racial order’s subtle expressions in postcolonial societies, which is supported by Said’s argument that re-presentation of the Other is the result of a willed human work.

Methodologically, the paper is designed as a historical-sociological documentary study of annual reports, newsletters, and consultations from Danish Refugee Council, Danish Red Cross and Association of Municipalities from the periods 1978-1980 (Vietnamese), 1992-1996 (Bosnians), and 2014-2016 (Syrian). The paper identifies two dominant re-presentations of the refugee as object of civil and public welfare work: the productive and the sick. Thus, the paper alludes to the racialisation of the welfare dynamic mobilized in response to refugees. A racialized welfare dynamic that is governed by an economic and pathological concern for the degeneration of society as well as of the individual.”

Finally, Katerina Strani presented her paper on ‘Exploring Cross-cultural Understandings on Race’.  The concept of race, albeit controversial and disputed, is becoming more and more thematised in today’s multicultural societies, which are increasingly re-shaped by migration and changing demographics. These changes are bringing to the fore discussions on culture, belonging and otherness, with race being a central aspect of the latter. Starting from the premise that race is a social construct, Katerina’s paper looked at differences in the meaning, significance and difference in the construction of race and racialisation in different countries and cultures. The focus was on processes of exclusion and othering through racialisation and the hegemony of whiteness (cf Ahmed, 2007). It challenged the concepts of race and racism in the framework of migration nand mobility and urged the necessity to revisit these key concepts and seek definitions, clarifications and boundaries from people of colour themselves. The paper sought to establish a language to talk about race in a cross-cultural, changing and dynamic context without resorting to stereotypes, colourblindness or homogenisation of experiences.

The presentations were followed by a lively discussion on definitions, boundaries and ‘white saviour’ complex, which included two of the three keynote speakers of the conference, Nando Sigona and Tobias Hübinette. Working group participants are grateful for all comments and interest in our research!

The full conference programme and book of abstracts are available here: http://etmudays.etmu.fi/en/programme/

Moving Languages Newsletter – Summer 2017

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by Katerina Strani

This newsletter is also available in Finnish, Italian and Swedish.

Moving Languages is an Erasmus+ international project with partners in 6 EU countries. In this project, we are developing a mobile application for refugees, migrants and other language learners who have just arrived in their new country in Europe and want to learn English, Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, or Finnish. We understand that people coming to Europe speak different languages and have different backgrounds and cultures. That is why we are offering translations in over 20 languages in our mobile application, as well as dedicated, localised “Culture” categories. We hope that this application will help the users learn the new language and key cultural concepts in their host countries. Designed to cater to different levels of linguistic competence, the Moving Languages application will also be useful for people who have already been living and working in their new home country for some time.

The content of the mobile application covers topics that are important during the first steps of living in the host country, with over 6,000 study items and over 3,000 illustrations for easy concept recognition. The categories include basic words as well as more specialised vocabulary related to studies, employment, healthcare, legal and administration issues and others.

The Moving Languages application will be available for download for free from all major app stores from June 2018.

Our project reports

O1 Report on immigrants, native languages and needs analysis for the applications

The partners conducted desk research about immigration in their own country. Needs analysis was conducted to get more information from stakeholders on what they would find relevant in a new language app. Based on this research, we selected the languages into which the Moving Languages application would be translated.

O2 Report on the mobile language solutions

The partners researched the availability of language apps in their countries. The collective report is a summary of what is available, the content and the cost of the language applications for Android and iOS. Based on this research, we have selected the most relevant exercise types, language content and game flow for our mobile app.

Mobile application development

We are already prototyping the app for both Android and iOs phones. You can find the details of the mobile application development on our project website, in the news section.

Project meetings

We have already had 3 project meetings: in Helsinki, Palermo and Malmö. You can read
more about them on our website in the news section.

Next steps

The next important stage of the app development is working on the Audio materials. The audio will be recorded by native speakers of each language in the project partner countries.

If you are interested in the project and would like to receive updates about our mobile application, check out our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter

This is an Erasmus+ international project

59°N – IRC PhD Student based in Orkney

by Cait McCullagh

Have you ever had the opportunity to peer at some of the many online depictions of Ptolemy’s 2nd Century AD Geography?  You’ll have had to turn your head to one side in order to take in the northern-most extent of Scotland, including the Northern Isles; bent over and squeezed to fit into the realm of what was then believed to be the ‘known world’?  The idea that anything might survive beyond the 59th parallel was, it seems, impossible to consider for Ptolemy and his Graeco-Roman counterparts and so they simply ensured that the Orcades and their farther flung partner archipelago, Ultima Thule (today’s Shetland), were snuck in below their true latitudes.

Perhaps you have also read recent press and social media reports of archaeological findings at the Ness of Brodgar, or even reviews of BBC Television’s Orkney: Britain’s Ancient Capital? Both proclaim aspects of the Islands’ heritage to be ‘weird’ and create the inference that there may be life in the far north, but ‘it’s not as we know it’. More making strange and a framing of the north as remote in culture as well as location.

In reality, experiencing life, and working, in the Northern Isles, does, indeed, require a re-framing of mindset.  For example: Edinburgh seems a terribly remote location from this centre, after all it takes me a car journey, a ferry, a train and another train and all in more than one day allows, to get to Edinburgh.  How does anyone down there cope with being so far from everything up here?  


The view over the island of Hoy



Kirkwall Harbour

Ah yes, the re-framing is welcome and it is enabling me to explore and research the ways in which being constrained as peripheral and, in some ways, ‘exotically traditional’ may actually inspire creative innovation.  I am already observing this in the ways that islanders are curating and developing their maritime heritage –  this being the topic that is significant for my PhD.  In an environment where the sea is always adjacent and imminent and where most people relate to the sea directly, each day, I’m also aware that this ‘heritage’ can be both past, present and future. It ullulates; an ongoing wave of cultural expressions; from the wrecked to being renewed boats, set adrift across the islands, to my own growing obsession with the Shipping Forecast as I plan field-tripping from one island to another.  The experience is rich and I hope this will be reflected in my research.  All this and next month: Shetland.  It’s a great privilege to be representing this northerly reach of the IRC, here at 59°N and counting!

Cait is  researching  Curating Heritage for Sustainable Communities in Highly Vulnerable Environments: The Case of Scotland’s Northern Isles, an Applied Research Collaborative Studentship supported PhD, supervised in partnership across Heriot-Watt University, The University of the Highlands and Islands Centre for Nordic Studies and Shetland Museum and Archives.  She is based at the university’s Orkney Campus, the International Centre for Island Technology.


Interior of the boat shed at Lyness on Scapa Flow


Active learning at a World Heritage Site

by Cristina Clopot

At the end of November, LINCS students on the Global Heritage course, which is part of the MSc in Cultural Resource Management, went on a visit to the Edinburgh World Heritage Centre.

What better way to compliment academic learning than by a discussion with experienced professionals? Luckily enough we live and work in close proximity to several wonderful examples of World Heritage sites. The Old and New Town of Edinburgh have been part of the World Heritage list since 1995 and the main actor responsible with the management of the site is Edinburgh World Heritage Centre (EWHC).

The visit included a discussion at EWHC followed by an on-foot exploration of some of the UNESCO-protected area, led by EWHC Director, Adam Wilkinson.

In the first part of the visit, Mr. Wilkinson explained the approach to heritage embraced by EWHC in its ethos. Students explored different definitions and concepts of heritage, as well as their applicability. Building on our lecture discussions, we all debated values, meaning and memories, not just mere objects, and gained from the heritage professionals’ view.

The complexity of tasks a world heritage site management activity entails was  also presented through different projects. Several examples were provided to emphasise the numerous stakeholders that need to be consulted (and persuaded in some cases) to begin any conservation activities, from the various owners of flats in a heritage building, to the complex system of authorities and agents who need to agree to undertake restaurant façade change. Several projected activities were also presented and the key takeaway was the thoughtfulness for people’s interaction with the site, keeping the site alive but also potential improvements of life in a historic city. The rest of the visit was an on-foot exploration and discussion of projects developed in the Old Town. We are grateful to Edinburgh World Heritage Centre to have had the chance to present our students with this applied learning experience.

One of our students found food for thought in this visit to reflect on her own heritage:


What about you ?


The Translating the Deaf Self project: Where are we now?

By Zoë McWhinney and Jemina Napier

On behalf of the whole Translating the Deaf Self project team

Click here to see a BSL version of the blog presented by Zoë.

As you may have seen in the earlier blogpost in March 2016, members of the Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies Scotland at Heriot-Watt University (Jemina Napier and Robert Skinner) are working in collaboration with researchers from the Social Research with Deaf People (SORD) group at the University of Manchester (Alys Young and Rosemary Oram) on an 18-month interdisciplinary project funded through the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Translating Cultures Research Innovation Grant. Information about the project can be found here, and a summary of the project presented in BSL by Jemina Napier and Rosemary Oram as part of the EdSign lecture series can be seen here.

 Research intern

As mentioned in the March blogpost, the AHRC is keen to support the capacity building of young researchers, so Zoë McWhinney began her 20 day research internship with Heriot-Watt University at the beginning of June 2016 – spending two weeks on campus at Heriot-Watt University and then will be carrying out the rest of her internship by distance until the end of the project in October 2016. Zoë was involved in supporting the final Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting in June 2016, and is involved in various tasks for the remainder of the project (including drafting and translating this blogpost!).

Data collection

Our research focuses on what it is like for Deaf sign language users to be known largely through translation. The Deaf experience of being constantly interpreted is markedly in contrast to the general hearing population’s experience, even that of other linguistic and ethnic minorities.  This experience often leads to an asymmetry of the ‘power dynamics’ and consequently the opportunities available to Deaf person in non-signing, hearing- dominated spaces. Some Deaf people’s well being may be adversely affected by the stresses created in such a situation – an area of exploration in this research project.

During the project, we have completed the following data collection:

  • 3 parents of Deaf children participated in telephone interviews in spoken English
  • 2 x focus groups were held with qualified sign language interpreters (7 interpreters in total) in spoken English
  • 8 hearing colleagues of Deaf BSL users participated in face-to-face interviews in spoken English
  • 3 Deaf BSL users who choose to speak sometimes in their professional work contexts participated in face-to-face interviews in BSL. We have coined the term ‘Deaf Contextual Speakers’ to explain how these Deaf BSL users sometimes use speech, even though they identify as BSL users.
  • 2 x Community Participatory Groups were held in BSL with Deaf community members (7 in total). Each of the 2 sessions lasted for 2.5 to 3 hours and also had some activities to allow space for open discussions. The participants in this group were most responsive when watching and commenting on clips of scenarios with examples of Deaf and hearing people’s communication being interpreted by an interpreter.
  • 5 x simulated recall interviews were held with Deaf professionals in BSL after one of the research team had filmed them in a real situation with interpreters. Originally we had planned to test the use of Think-Aloud Protocol (TAP) as a methodology (where people comment on what they are seeing while they are doing a task), but due to the complex circumstances and the reality of the participants being BSL users accompanied by interpreters in person, we adapted the approach to a ‘simulated recall (SR) interview’. The SR interviews involved participants being shown a video of themselves interacting with hearing persons via an interpreter and asking them questions about their experience of being interpreted based on what they could see in the video.

All the focus groups and interviews were semi-structured, with the participants given example questions and/ or topic outline beforehand. Time length for focus groups took from 1.5 to 3 hours, whilst the individual interviews took from 30 minutes to 1 hour each.

The research study gained full ethical approval from the Universities of Manchester and Heriot Watt.

Presentations of results

Presently, the team is conducting an in-depth qualitative analysis using both a thematic analysis approach and a critical inquiry methodology.  The findings will be published in a range of academic journals related to social research, deaf studies and interpreting studies, as well as present at different conferences and community events. BSL access to the main findings will be made available online as well.  For example, we presented some preliminary findings in a poster session at the 8th Critical Link International Conference on Community Interpreting between 29th June to 1st July 2016 at Heriot-Watt university; and will also be presenting a more detailed overview of results at the Association of Sign Language Interpreters UK Conference in Newcastle in September 2016.

Final Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting

On 7th June we had our third and final meeting with the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) in Edinburgh, Scotland, with representatives from the British Deaf Association (Scotland), the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters (SASLI) and Action on Hearing Loss (Scotland), where we presented the preliminary results from our analysis of the data. The role of the SAG has been to give the research team guidance on the research methods, data collection, recruitment of participants, interpretation of the results, and also about potential implications of the research, and we would like to thank all the people who have attended meetings throughout the project, including other representatives from Deaf Action in Edinburgh and Deaf Connections in Glasgow. One of the final recommendations from the last SAG meeting was for the project team to hold a roadshow to present the results of the project to members of the Deaf community in BSL. We will look for funding to enable us to do that.

What’s next?

The research team are now working with AC2.Com Productions and Mutt & Jeff Pictures to develop scripts for 3 short video dramas in BSL in order to illustrate some of the key findings from the research project. We plan to disseminate the videos through various platforms, including social media.


As well as working on the video production, Zoë will be assisting the research team to organise a dissemination event in September, where the whole team will present final results from the project and launch the videos. The event will be hosted in collaboration with our partner Action Deafness at their new venue at the Royal School for the Deaf in Derby – so look out for future announcements!


The Manchester terror drill – and why we must stop linking Arabic with fanatics

This article was first published in ‘The Conversation’ https://theconversation.com/uk

by Máiréad Nic Craith

Greater Manchester Police staged a mock attack featuring a suicide bomber late on the night of Monday May 9. It began at the Trafford Centre shopping complex when a man in black walked into the centre of the main foyer and shouted “Allahu Akbar” – “God is great” – several times at the crowd. Moments later, an explosion rocked the food hall. The 800 volunteers dropped to the floor or ran into cafes and shops screaming for help, many of them made up to look as if they had horrific injuries.

The reaction has been largely negative, with many making the point that using the words “Allahu Akbar” reinforced the stereotype that terrorists are primarily Muslim. They rightly said that in reality, anyone can be a terrorist. By enforcing the Muslim stereotype, the exercise divided rather than united people and could increase anti-Muslim hate crime.

The police force was quick to put up a senior officer to respond. Stressing that “Allahu Akbar” was not scripted, he called the phrase “unacceptable” and apologised on behalf of the force since it “vocally linked this exercise with Islam”.

End of story? Actually an important point has been overlooked. The commentary has focused on the fact that the attack associated Islam and terrorism, but something else was associated with terrorism, too – the Arabic language. Spoken by an estimated 422m people, it is one of the most common languages in the world. Have we become so used to associating politics with particular languages that the matter is not considered exceptional or worthy of discussion?

UK connotations

This issue goes much wider than Arabic. Staying with the UK, other languages are associated with political ideologies, too. I worked in Northern Ireland for 11 years and could not fail to notice the political stereotypes around the Irish language. I worried that my beautiful Irish language name would generate the perception that my intentions were political – although friends assured me that given I was from the South, the issue did not arise.

Since the days of the hunger striker Bobby Sands, who taught himself and other fellow prisoners Irish in the H-Blocks, Sinn Féin has often been accused of politicising Irish. Linking Irish with political intent makes it uncomfortable for some people without nationalist aspirations to speak it in public.

Last year, for instance, the Belfast Telegraph columnist Claire Harrison wrote that she stopped her university course in Irish partly because of “a growing discomfort with a general assumption that I was a raving republican”.

Sinn Féin conference in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Niall Carson

The perception that Irish is political has been greatly enhanced by politicians from non-nationalist parties seizing the opportunity to score a point at the expense of the Irish culture. Linda Ervine, a prominent unionist Irish-language speaker, last year accused Nelson McCausland of the unionist DUP of politicising the Irish language in exactly the same manner he claims republicans are guilty of. It’s not as if it has to be this way. Many of my friends in Northern Ireland who speak Irish on a regular basis do not associate it with politics and are motivated only by a love of Irish culture.

Over the Irish Sea in Scotland, we are seeing signs of something similar. In my recent TEDx talk on living heritage I noted that Scots has gained a new visibility and credibility as the culture has become more self-confident in the wake of the 2014 independence referendum. Pro-independence daily The National now features a weekly column in Scots, for instance. Yet the emergence of Scots cannot escape the political undertones. As the culture scholar Scott Hames wrote a few months ago, the “question of Scots is now becoming hyper-politicised in crude and distorting ways”. He argued that “national identity is undoubtedly part of the picture; but it needn’t be the whole picture”.

Many of us have heard the slogan that “a language is a dialect with an army and a navy”. Languages now considered “neutral” or “official” have often gained their visibility and credibility with the support of political structures – a fact often forgotten at the beginning of the 21st century.

So how to respond? The Irish-language activist Aodán Mac Poilín has suggested that, rather than attempting to depoliticise languages and break their link with specific communities, we should think about making them appropriate for many communities and in many spheres – multi-politicising them, if you will. With this in mind, it is good to read about the latest Arabic initiative in London, in which “Subhan Allah” (or “Glory be to God”) is appearing on posters on the sides of the red buses. This initiative by Islamic Relief is designed to change the negativity about Islam and foster understanding between different communities.

Sadiq Khan. Dominic Lipinski/PA

A few days ago, London elected its first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan. The most recent winner of the Great British Bake Off was the Muslim Nadiya Hussain. With more events like these and fewer ill-conceived terror drills and such like, it raises the possibility of multi-politicising Arabic. Perhaps there will come a time when we don’t immediately think of terrorism when we hear the word “Allah”. Perhaps we might think instead about justice, human rights and good food.