The Interpreters' Newsletter of the Dipartimento di
Scienze del Linguaggio, dell'Interpretazione e della Traduzione and the Scuola
Superiore di Lingue Moderne per Interpreti e Traduttori, University of
Trieste, is an international journal promoting the dissemination and discussion
of research in the field of interpreting studies.
This paper presents the results of a research study exploring the work context and professional
experiences of 11 Deaf interpreters based in Europe. Findings indicate that Deaf
interpreters are not afforded the same educational opportunities or work experiences
as hearing sign language interpreters in several European nations. Factors required for
successful cooperation in Deaf/hearing interpreting teams are addressed in this study
amongst which is increased awareness amongst hearing interpreters regarding the work
and skill of Deaf interpreters.
This study explores the quality of sign language interpreters in the Netherlands from a
deaf user perspective. Deaf sign language users select an interpreter according to situational
factors, the interpreter’s professional skills and norms. The choice for a specific interpreter
is based on a set of individual quality criteria. Results of the study indicate that
consumers firstly aim to select an interpreter who will render a faithful and understandable
interpretation. Further results show that the criteria vary depending on the setting,
such as employment, education, and community. Lastly, the study suggests that many
deaf sign language users lack awareness regarding the professional requirements of the
interpreter, and also many interpreters lack insight regarding the expectations of the deaf
sign language user.
The evaluation of working memory capacity (WMC) in signed language interpreters represents
a noticeable research gap in both cognitive psychology and interpreting studies.
This study compared two scoring methods – total items and proportion items – for an
English listening span task and an Auslan (Australian Sign Language) working memory
(WM) span task, which were administered to 31 professional Auslan/English interpreters.
Given the small sample size, results reveal that the total items measure was marginally
better than the proportion items measure in terms of psychometric properties. When used
for statistical analyses of the interpreters’ bilingual WMC, the two scoring methods yielded
the same result pattern occasionally, but they also produced discrepant outcomes at
times. Unlike the proportion items measure, the total items measure did not reveal statistically
significant results. The total items measure was chosen as the final scoring method
for this study only. These findings indicate that researchers need to be aware of methodological
issues when they create and score WM span tasks.
A fundamental principle held by professional American Sign Language-English interpreters
is the critical importance of preparing for assignments; however, neither preparation
strategies nor their efficacy have been studied in depth. For this study, six experienced
ASL-English conference interpreters were interviewed about the preparation process they
used to render President Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural address into ASL. The participants
were given the full script of Obama’s speech and 20 minutes of preparation time.
After completing their interpretations, the participants engaged in a retrospective verbal
report regarding their preparation strategies. The descriptive findings suggest that even
ASL-English interpreters with experience in conference settings do not have standard
strategies for preparing with written material, especially when interpreting a dense text
under time constraints. A systematic approach to teaching preparation may improve the
quality of the interpretations of scripted speeches, and other discourse genres, by ASL-English
American Sign Language-English interpreters employed in the video relay service (VRS)
industry in the United States are subject to numerous guidelines for processing calls,
which are mandated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) or by independent
VRS companies. Anecdotally, VRS interpreters report ambiguity about the guidelines
and their impact on the quality of their interpretations. In this pilot study, I investigated
the origin of VRS guidelines by reviewing public documents from the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I then interviewed
four experienced VRS interpreters regarding their perceptions of the origin and
impact of the constraints placed on interpreters in VRS. Two themes emerged in the interview
data: 1) interpreters are uncertain whether the constraints placed on their work are
federally mandated or established by individual corporations, and 2) interpreters report
a sense of responsibility for their work and have concerns regarding constraints on their
professional autonomy. This study suggests that interpreters in the U.S. do not have sufficient
knowledge about the system in which they work to make informed decisions when
working in VRS.