InDialog in Berlin

By Stacey Webb

19-21 November 2015 if you were looking for Ursula Böser, Jemina Napier, Stacey Webb, Eloisa Monteoliva Garcia or Yvonne Waddell you wouldn’t have found them around Heriot-Watt campus or anywhere in Edinburgh, as this lot was deep ‘in dialogue’ in Berlin Germany! The InDialog conference, “Community Interpreting In Dialogue With Technology” was the second InDialog conference held at Russisches Haus für Wissenschaft und Kultura. This conference is dedicated entirely to the many facets of community interpreting. Themes included, Technology & Practice; Legal Settings; Quality and Best Practice; Highly Sensitive Settings, Training for Practice; Research Methodology; Community Issues; National Perspectives; and Healthcare Settings.

Heriot-Watt staff and students are truly doing some interesting research and I am proud to work amongst them. Below is a brief description of the papers presented by LINCS colleagues.

Ursula Böser, Professor of Intercultural Studies and Languages, presented a paper aiming to contribute to the formulation of best practice in the mediated co-construction of evidence, which involves child speakers of foreign languages. Combining research findings about child interviewing and studies in face-to-face interpreting, this paper focused on the importance of engaging the minor in the interpreting process in a child-aware fashion; arguing that setting, rehearsing and maintaining ground rules of mediated communication is crucial in ensuring the integrity of interviews in the highly sensitive setting of bilingual child interviews. Drawing on the example of children to highlight the heterogeneity of profiles of non-institutional users of PSI it highlighted questions, which arise from the perspective of a specific group of users in the wider context of PSI practice and research.

Jemina Napier, Head of Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies, gave two presentations.  First she gave an overview of research findings from the Insign project she led in 2014 with other colleagues from LINCS: Prof Graham Turner and Robert Skinner. This project, funded by the Directorate General Justice of the European Commission, aimed to develop a web-based service platform, enabling European Deaf and Hard of Hearing citizens to have dialogue with EU Institutions and Members of the European Parliament in their preferred sign language.  Jemina explained that the Insign project broke ground as it was the first Video Relay Service of its kind to provide access to deaf people in more than one spoken-signed language pair.  All other services focus on national spoken and signed languages. The role of the research team was to evaluate the communicative outcomes of the Insign VRS, and they analysed recordings of VRS calls between Deaf sign language users and hearing people, as well as ethnographic observation field notes, surveys and interviews with Deaf people, interpreters, captioners/respeakers and MEPs.

Jemina’s second presentation was a co-authored presentation with Prof Lorraine Leeson from Trinity College Dublin (who was not able to be at the conference) and was on the benefits of using mixed-methods in community interpreting research.  The paper gave an overview of how the mixed-methods approach was adopted in two related studies exploring deaf people’s participation in, and access to, justice: 1) The Deaf Juror Project and 2) The Justisigns project. By using a mixed-methods approach, combining quantitative and qualitative methods such as surveys, interviews, non-participant observation, simulation, discourse analysis, these researchers were able to triangulate data in each study to look at the overarching research questions from varying perspectives to provide a deeper understanding of the issues being investigated, and validating findings gleaned from different sources.  (Be sure to check out Jemina’s book, co-authored with Sandra Hale, on varying research methods to use in your interpreting related research. If you mix your methods you may find it to be very beneficial!)

Stacey Webb, Assistant Professor of Sign Language Studies, presented on her doctoral research, which explores the job demands, and job resources interpreter educators have and how they perceive such demands as influencing student learning outcomes. Through the Job Demand Resource Survey-Interpreter Educators (JDRSIE), developed by Webb based on an initial scoping study (see Webb and Napier 2015), preliminary findings show that interpreter educators do not feel they have enough time or resources to fully prepare students.  Although respondents feel they are doing the best with what they have, they also feel their students are not prepared as they should be upon graduation (e.g. 50% have agreed to passing students who were deemed not ready to advance).  Although this research explores sign language interpreters, Ineke Crezee from Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand expressed how she strongly relates to the findings of this work and hopes to see this study replicated for spoken language interpreter educators in the future.

Eloisa Monteoliva Garcia, doctoral researcher, shared her paper focusing on hybridity in a case study of interpreter-mediated police interviews. Drawing on her ongoing PhD research, she highlighted the particular ways in which triadic sequences mediated by a qualified interpreter and same-language interaction between primary participants are combined in police interviews conducted in English with Spanish-speaking suspects. Her research explores how interaction occurs when transparency is acknowledged and limited resources in the other’s languages are used even if an interpreter is present.  Thus, she presented preliminary findings of a CA-based study of multimodal interaction, and stresses the particular dynamics observed in the hybrid communicative format used in the specific context of the police interview as a discourse genre, an event that plays a vital role in the criminal process.

Yvonne Waddell, doctoral researcher, presented on an initial scoping study as part of her doctoral research. This study included participant observation methods to explore the language and communication strategies utilized by a psychiatric nurse over a 3- month period when interacting with deaf patients on his case load, who use British Sign Language (BSL) and a BSL/English Interpreter, working within a specialist mental health service for deaf people in Scotland. Two major themes emerged from her thematic analysis of her field notes and semi structured interviews: 1) The establishment and maintenance of a therapeutic relationship with Deaf patients and 2) The development of a collaborative working relationship with the interpreter.  She explains how her research may be of benefit to understanding the communicative strategies nurses use with their patients when working with an interpreter and could contribute to pedagogical practice of both psychiatric nurses and interpreters working in community mental health settings.

For more information on this Indialog conference and to learn about future conferences click here

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