Working with British Sign Language / English interpreters in higher education
This blog is a useful guide for lecturers working with sign language interpreters in higher education but please do discuss arrangements with the Deaf student and interpreters.
I qualified as a British Sign Language (BSL) / English interpreter in 2001 and regularly work in higher education (HE). I like to offer continuity and will endeavour to make myself available to be part of the interpreting team throughout the duration of the course. This is beneficial to the Deaf student, lecturers and the interpreting team when working at this level. Interpreters and lecturers need to work together to ensure Deaf students have full access to the course and are able to participate on par with their hearing peers.
The nature of HE is that students will regularly present an argument in class referring to a journal article they have been asked to read. Please make lecture slides, handouts and any other materials available to interpreters 48 hours prior to the lecture to allow them to undertake any additional reading or research and to digest the information. Giving interpreters access to the university learning platform can make this easier. Alternatively, if lecturers do not want to give students access to materials prior to the lecture, these could be emailed to the interpreters directly. Interpreters are usually happy to receive a draft document or material from the previous academic year if these are in the process of being updated. Being able to access slides and view media (e.g.film clips) in advance is important for the interpreting process and to avoid injury (Repetitive Strain Injury).
BSL is a visual language and interpreters need to sit facing the Deaf student. The Deaf student needs to see the interpreter, lecturer and the screen so the interpreter would usually sit to one side of the screen thus allowing the Deaf student to use their eye-gaze to follow the screen and signing. This means the interpreter cannot see what is unfolding on the screen behind without the need to physically turn their neck or body. This awkward movement puts increased strain on the body with the risk of causing RSI. Documents accessed in advance can be saved to to personal devices.
Where possible, please allow interpreters access to the following materials:
See my blog The Role of a BSL / Englsih Interpreter 31/05/16 for additional information.