De Meulder, Maartje; Napier, Jemima; Stone, Christopher (Conference of Interpreter Trainers, 2018-12-26)
In this paper we present an appreciative inquiry case study of our work together in a PhD defence, which we believe demonstrates a best practice in the field of signed language interpreting. We call into question the meaning and relevance of the ‘designated interpreter’ model, examining whether there is a ‘perfect formula’ for deaf academics and interpreters working together, not only in PhD defences, but also in academia more generally. We also challenge the very system for the provision of interpreter services as an institution creating structural inequalities, because it is heavily based on privilege. We argue that what is key is preference (i.e. the ability to exercise real choice) and familiarity, rather than the assignation of a ‘designated’ interpreter, and that simply achieving a degree in interpreting cannot guarantee that an interpreter will be prepared to meet the needs of deaf professionals. We also argue that sign language interpreter education needs to focus more than it does now on training to work into English (and/or other spoken languages in non-English-speaking countries), on performing visibly comfortable language work, and on specific specializations linked to deaf professional access and continuing professional development.
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