- Supervisors & managers
- Premia - making research education accessible
- Supervising disabled researchers - Premia
- How can the language of research be a barrier?
- British Sign Language users
British Sign Language users
Deaf researchers whose first language is BSL (British Sign Language) will work with a BSL/English interpreter, or usually a team of interpreters. It could well be that the subject-specific words we take for granted do not have equivalents in BSL. Both interpreters and researchers need to know the word and have a clear understanding of its meaning. Only then can it be spoken, interpreted, comprehended, absorbed and internalised. Paul Haan, a BSL/English interpreter, talks here about the issues.
‘In my experience I find that ... terms and various types of concepts can be extremely difficult to interpret. Mainly this is related to the meaning value attached to any particular stretch of discourse. This will change according to the context of the subject.
In many cases this means the supervisor and tutor need to bring the intended (denotative/connotative) meaning to the surface making it more accessible to the Deaf and disabled student. A good tutor will provide examples and analogies to unpack meaning (situate the example in real life). This goes a long way to supporting the interpreter and student and enhancing the learning experience. Once a concept or term is understood usually a Deaf student creates their own sign that can be used. This encapsulates the essence of the meaning and if embraced by the Deaf Community can become part of the BSL lexicon.Paul Hann, BSL/English interpreter (2005)
Interpreting within an education environment requires a specific approach - a mixture of 'literal' and 'free' interpretation has advantages. Clearly students need access to technical terminology as this is crucial to their future written work. A literal approach entails fingerspelling the word in question followed by a free approach - expanding the meaning to give it some focus as it could be an entirely new concept. This can be extremely challenging given the time constraints with interpreting. Supervisors and tutors aware of the interpreter's approach would hopefully pace their dialogue to facilitate interpretation.
It's necessary to discuss each participant's communication needs within the interpreted event. It is very important to provide sufficient preparatory information to the interpreter so they can prepare - explanations of terms may also be necessary. This information would also be useful to the Deaf and disabled student as they can not always access power point presentations and watch the interpreter at the same time.’