Heriot-Watt University BSL interpreting and community placements

By Jemina Napier

 <Click here to see this blog post in BSL>

 

As many people in the Scottish Deaf community and BSL/English interpreting profession will know, this year is the first time that we have a group BSL/English interpreting students completing their final year of studying in a 4-year undergraduate programme. This is the only university in Scotland that offers a training programme that is approved by the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters (SASLI) and the National Registers of Communication Professionals with working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD) as a route to professional qualification and registration to practice as a sign language interpreter. The first group of students will graduate in June 2016.

Students heading out on interpreting work placement for the first time

From January – May 2016 it is the current 4th year students’ final semester and one of the compulsory requirements is for students to complete an interpreting work placement. During this placement students will be shadowing professional interpreters in real interpreting assignments.

The aim of the interpreting work placement is to:

  1. To give students the opportunity to access authentic ‘real-world’ interpreting situations
  2. To provide students with the opportunity to observe the professional practice of qualified interpreters at work
  3. To facilitate the opportunity for students to try interpreting in ‘real-world’ interpreting situations, in a safe and supported environment, where appropriate and with the agreement of all parties
  4. To enable students to discuss, critique and reflect on their observations of other interpreters and their own professional practice

 

The interpreting work placement will take place in two 1-week blocks (22-26 February and 4-8 April).

The organisation of the interpreting work placement would not be possible without the support of the key organisations SASLI and NRCPD who have endorsed that interpreters can received Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points for acting as mentors.

But even more importantly, it could not take place without the collaboration and support of professional sign language interpreters in Scotland, who are giving their time, energy and commitment to supporting these students. We would like to specifically thank the list of interpreters below who have agreed to take on students this year:

  1. Paul Belmonte (Edinburgh)
  2. Andy Carmichael (Edinburgh)
  3. Lesley Crerar (Aberdeen)
  4. Andrew Dewey (Ayr)
  5. Linda Duncan (Fife)
  6. Marion Fletcher (Edinburgh)
  7. Rebecca Goodall (Inverness)
  8. Donna Jewell (Falkirk)
  9. Brenda Mackay (Fife)
  10. Paula Marshall (Denny)
  11. Robert McCourt (Glasgow)
  12. Mary McDevitt (Falkirk)
  13. Drena O’Malley (Glasgow)
  14. Mark Sherwin (Edinburgh)
  15. Linda Thomson (Glasgow)
  16. Helen Dunipace
  17. Yvonne Waddell

 

We know that there are many more interpreters all over Scotland that might be interested in becoming a student mentor, and in future years we will be looking for more mentors as student numbers increase, so if you are interested please contact Jemina Napier as the interpreting placement coordinator by email.

We would also like to thank Deaf BSL users in Scotland in advance for their support of our students, and hope that you will encourage them in their efforts to develop their skills to become professional interpreters. The students to look out for are:

  1. Rachel Amey
  2. Jude Caldwell
  3. Greg Colquhoun
  4. Niamh Cochrane
  5. Virginia Dugo
  6. Scott Ellerington
  7. Rachel Evans
  8. Jill Gallacher
  9. Nadia Krupova
  10. Helena Laverty
  11. Lisa Li
  12. Grace McNeill
  13. Samuel Rojas
  14. Marie Elliott

Community placement

We would also like to acknowledge the support of all the organisations throughout the UK that are providing community work placement experiences for our 3rd year students. The 3rd year placement is different from the 4th year placement as it takes place over a whole year, and students are required to work in two different organisations where BSL is used every day so that they can have immersion in the language and culture of Deaf people every day. While on placement, the students do project work or other tasks (but not interpreting) and participate in general organizational activities.

This year is the second year that organisations have hosted students on community work placements, and we are appreciative of the efforts that the organisations go to in order to support our students to develop their BSL skills and Deaf community and cultural awareness.

It has been a steep learning curve for us at Heriot-Watt University and also for our community organisation partners, as this is a new approach to sign language interpreter training and as far as we know Heriot-Watt University is the first programme in the world to require students to take a 1-year language immersion community placement. We could not make this happen without the close collaboration with Deaf BSL users and Deaf community organisations.

Graham H. Turner, Coordinator of the BSL Community Work Placements notes that:

“Heriot-Watt’s BSL team members have many years’ experience of interpreter education. We were very conscious of the widespread feeling that university-educated interpreters tend to know what to do in the classroom, but do not have the kind of profound appreciation of Deaf lives that comes from being close to the ‘beating heart’ of the community. Our partners are working with us to change that. We simply couldn’t create on our campus the kind of learning experience that they can offer. If our programme fully achieves its aims, it will be in no small part because of the contribution partner organisations are making to developing the interpreters that they wish to work with in the future.”

So we would like to thank all of the organisations listed below who have so far hosted students on community work placement:

Action on Deafness (Leicester)
Birmingham Institute of the Deaf (BID)
British Deaf Association (BDA Scotland & Northern Ireland)
Deaf Action (Edinburgh)
Deaf Connections (Glasgow)
Deaf Direct (Worcester)
Deafness Support Network (Northwich)
DeafPlus (London)
Deafway (Preston)
Deaf Links (Dundee)
Donaldsons School (Linlithgow)
Hampshire Deaf Association – Sonus (Southampton)
Manchester Deaf Centre (Manchester)
National Deaf Services/National Deaf CAMHS (London)
Nottinghamshire Deaf Society (Nottingham)
Royal Association for Deaf People (RAD) (London, Kent & Colchester)
Ericsson Access Services (formerly RedBee Media) (London)
Remark! (London)
Scottish Council on Deafness (Glasgow)
SignVideo (London & Glasgow)
Solar Bear (Glasgow)

 

We are always looking for new community partners, so any interested organisations can contact Graham H. Turner by email.

Finally, Gary Quinn, the Head of the BSL section at Heriot-Watt University says:

“As programme coordinator, I would like to thank all the interpreters and staff in the community organisations that are supporting the degree at Heriot-Watt University by giving our students the opportunity to develop more ‘real-life’ awareness of the Deaf and Interpreting communities in the UK. I know the students have appreciated your efforts to support their learning and each of you has contributed a vital part to our students’ development, which will undoubtedly make our graduates better prepared for the professional world of BSL/English Interpreting.”

In sum, we would like to acknowledge and thank everyone who has direct involvement in supporting students studying BSL/English interpreting at Heriot-Watt University and we wish our 4th year students who are about to go out on interpreting placement the best of luck and hope that they have a positive experience.

 

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