From Word to Sign – research feature

KU Leuven Stories – the power of wonder.
By Ine Van Houdenhove

A while ago I was interviewed for the KU Leuven (the university where I obtained my PhD) Stories series. During a online interview (damn pandemic) we talked about my doctoral and postdoctoral (University of Warwick, UK) research. The result is a feature, or Story, that offers a very clear overview of mss studies and the main findings. Enjoy the read and as always; do not hesitate to share your thoughts on the topic(s)

* Voor de Nederlandse versie, klik hier.

Van Woord naar Gebaar – Story over mijn onderzoek(en)

KU Leuven Stories – de kracht van verwondering.
Door Ine Van Houdenhove.

Onlangs werd ik geïnterviewd voor de KU Leuven (waar ik mijn doctoraatsonderzoek deed) Stories series. Tijdens een online interview (rot pandemie!) hadden we het over het onderzoek dat ik deed tijdens mijn doctoraat en postdoctoraat (University of Warwick, UK). Het resultaat is een Story dat op een heel heldere manier een overzicht biedt van deze onderzoeken en de belangrijkste bevindingen. Geniet ervan, en – zoals steeds – laat me gerust weten wat en hoe jij over deze thema’s denkt. 

* For an English version, click here.  

Feature in The Linguist: Split-second decisions

About choices, decisions and strategies

The latest issue of The Linguist (the professional journal of the Chartered Institute of Linguists) features a piece on my PhD and postdoctoral research:

Click image for full article

In the article I talk about (signed language) interpreting as a goal-oriented process, presenting the most important findings of my PhD research (KU Leuven, Belgium) and insights from my follow-up postdoctoral study (University of Warwick, UK).

WASLI 2021 conference keynote

On July 10th I delivered the opening keynote at the online conference organised by the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters. The theme of the conference was What have we learnt from 2020-2021.

You can re-watch (part) of the keynote entitled Retrospection, reflection, and strategies. Pausing in order to move the signed language interpreting profession forward (! the presentation was not recorded from the start unfortunately).
The slides of the presentation can be found and downloaded here.

I also had the honour to share some closing remarks. The WASLI’s August Newsletter reports on the conference and includes some participants’ impressions.

Interested in other presentations that were part of the WASLI 2021 online conference? You can access many of them through the WASLI website

Hoe tolken keuzes maken – EOS Psyche & Brein (Dutch only)

In editie 2/2021 van EOS magazine Psyche & Brein verscheen een artikel over mijn doctoraatsonderzoek.

Het artikel gaat in op de strategieën die tolken Nederlands – Vlaamse Gebarentaal (en bij uitbreiding alle tolken) gebruiken en de keuzes die ze maken. Het benadrukt dat die keuzes deel uitmaken van het tolken en dat tolken niet zomaar iets doen maar hun keuzes kunnen motiveren en verklaren.

Publication strategies on the Exchanges Discourse podcast

Spotify Episode banner

At the end of 2020 I was a guest on the Exchanges Discourse podcast, the podcast of the Interdisciplinary Research Journal at the Institute of Advanced Study at the University of Warwick.

Dr. Gareth Johnson (Gaz) and I talked all things strategy in the academic publishing world. From learning curves, to academic publishing horror stories, to some advice for first-time authors.

You can listen to the episode on Spotify, Anchor FM, Breaker, or Apple Podcasts . You can also read the transcript (English) of the conversation:

You have to surround yourself with people who actually want you to be successful.

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
Hello and welcome to another episode of the exchanges discourse podcast. I am dr. Gareth J. Johnson, the managing editor in chief of Exchanges, the interdisciplinary research journal, published by the Institute for Advanced Study based at the University of Warwick in the UK. Thanks for joining me today. In a similar vein to last times episode, I’m joined once more by a guest and today it’s one of our more senior WIRL-COFUND research fellows. We’ll be talking about her research and publishing experiences. 

Well, this morning, I’m joined by Isabelle Heyerick, who is currently a postdoctoral WIRL-COFUND fellow in Applied Linguistics here at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Warwick. Welcome, Isabelle. Thanks for joining us.

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
Good morning. Happy to be here.

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
Fantastic. Now, obviously, you know, my first question is going to be about your own research. So, tell me a little bit more about what you’re working on at the moment.

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
Yes, sure. I’m always happy to talk about my research. So, my current research, the focus actually developed from the one I did previously, my PhD. But it’s also influenced by some new current trends in the field. My field of study, I’ll start with that, is signed language interpreting. I approach it from what I would call an interdisciplinary perspective. 

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
Always good. 

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
Yeah, also, one of the reasons I’m an IAS fellow. The interdisciplinarity is actually made up from interpreting studies, obviously, that would be the main angle, but it’s influenced heavily by Deaf Studies, and applied and sociolinguistics. So, the research focus is really on linguistic interpreting strategies, hence the Applied Linguistics angle as well. But I look at how prevalent ideologies about signed languages, spoken languages, and interpreting actually influenc the linguistic choices interpreters make in their actual work. So that’s my main focus, but more recently, and this is because of the pandemic. I mean. I think each researcher is now kind of raring towards like, okay, a lot of stuff is happening here, how can I research this, how does it tie in with the knowledge I already have? So more recently, I’ve actually started to explore the impact of the visibility of signed language interpreters. Because since the pandemic, all over the world, we have a lot of sign language interpreters, in the media, interpreting press conferences, briefings, etc. So, I’m looking at how this increased visibility has actually influenced people in wanting to learn signed languages or wanting to become signed language interpreters and tying this to ideologies they might have about deaf people, about sign languages, etc.

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
That sounds really timely work as well. I mean, it’s, obviously, I mean, I’ve seen in the media or the various discussions over wearing face masks, and of course, the difficulty for deaf members of the public from not be able to lip read. So saying that of course, sign language at least isn’t restricted by masks in quite the same way. 

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
Yes, exactly.

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
Brilliant. Well, okay. Now, obviously, you’re on the Exchanges Discourses podcast, and one of the things we are very much interested in is scholarly publishing. So I know, as an academic author yourself, you’ve probably got a few irons in the fire at the moment. What, what are you working on right now?

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
I have actually not started writing yet. But over the Summer I submitted an abstract to a journal, which will publish a special edition on, believe it or not, sign language interpreting and ideologies.

Dr Gaz J Johnson  

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
I submitted an abstract and it was accepted for publication. Which means that we have to write the article, right? So at this point, I’m just putting together the skeleton of what I want to address, I am looking at my data. Of course, I am looking at the abstract, where I said what I would write about. So just preparing that really. So it’s due March, which means I will actually really start writing somewhere by the end of next month.

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
Over the Christmas break, perfect.

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
Yeah. Sounds like something you want to do with a nice glass of wine or champagne, right? 

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
I find it quite interesting when you submit abstracts, and then you come to write and do the conference paper or the academic paper, and I look at why have I overpromised what I’m going to put in this article. One of these two options would have been a fine article, but it’s been already accepted. So now I’m going to talk about these two themes in one article. Fantastic.

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
Well, I had my abstract reviewed by a couple of my peers and they were like “Amazing. But I really am reading six articles here”. I kept all drafts of the abstract and I have five more articles in the pipeline.

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
I guess that’s a good thing. I was going to say. Wow, six articles in one day is good. That is far better.

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
I think it’s one of my things. My PhD turned out to be 600 pages. It was like three PhDs in one study, you know.

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
It’s always good to hear people who write a long thesis, because my thesis was a long one as well. But there was a lot to say, and I’m unfortunately a bit of a garrulous individual when I write as well. Probably part of it.
Obviously, you’ve published a few times already, Isabelle, what’s been your impression of the scholarly publishing world for yourself as an academic?

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
Yeah. So I think my impression has changed from an early career or early academic author to where I am now. 
I don’t know. My father used to say that some things you should just do when you’re young and foolish, and you don’t really know what you’re doing. I think for a few of my first publications, this was true. And it was good that I did it when I was young and foolish, because knowing what I know now I would probably not go there. But it also means that sometimes you do something, you invest time and energy, not really knowing what you’re doing. And now in the later stage of my career, I actually do know what is expected of me. And then I look back, like, oh, that was a bit of wasted time and energy, a little learning curve.

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
Absolutely. And I was going to say, that is the academic learning journey for us all, you know. As with the things I did with my own research, I look back and I went, well, I could have saved myself six months or a year here with this work. If I only realized what I know now, three years later.

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
Exactly. And I think that’s one of the things that is quite important in academic writing and publishing, to have people around you who kind of know and who are willing to share that knowledge with you. Who are willing to support you, to guide you, and to keep you on track. And it’s not only keeping you on track, like “this is your focus, don’t meander into all the other stuff that’s interesting as well.” It’s also just about very practical stuff; what are the requirements? What are the standards? How do you have to submit something? What will make a good impression? But also, how do you communicate with people you don’t know? How do you communicate with reviewers? What is the right tone? And there’s a lot to learn there, and you don’t learn it during your PhD.

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
And I was gonna say, in dealing as I do with an awful lot of reviewers, they are all individuals, and they interact, and they react in very different ways to sort of comments from authors and vice versa. So, it is something I often think is, it’s you need to just have that experience. But also people like ourselves, saying don’t stress, that we’ve all been through this, it’s not the end of the world when a reviewer comes back, and they really don’t like your paper.

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
Exactly. And I think having had later on the experience of also being an editor to an edited volume with another person. So we’re two editors, seeing how the conversation goes between editors and reviewers and then knowing what goes through to the actual author also kind of gave me another perspective. Being on the other side and receiving reviews for other authors, you know. Because you know, well, there’s somebody there, the editor who most of the time will protect both of you. Because I as an editor have had some reviews where I thought these are not very kind reviews, you could make your point in a kinder way. You don’t have to be that attacking or to diminish the person to the ground, right? You can still make your valid point in a more collegial way really. 

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
We always say with exchanges our motto is critique not criticism. That’s what we hope our viewers embrace that it’s going to be analytical, yes, it actually may well say things are not great but there’s a way to phrase it that is still empowering, that is still useful without just going out right down the grounds that well this is a dreadful article I wouldn’t bother publishing this. I have seen reviews like that and particularly for first time authors so downheartening. It really is. 
So since we’re talking a bit here about the sort of horror stories as well. Have you had any terrible, really terrible experiences? Naming them, names perhaps? In your own publishing career?

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
Oh, I’m not going to name any names but there was a very unfortunate event. Very early on, actually. I think it’s probably due to the fact that I was a young author, not a lot of experience and actually co-authoring with somebody who was equally not very experienced in the whole of academic publishing and its code of ethics. It was a combination of ourselves being young, unexperienced and some miscommunication, I think, with the editor of a certain volume. So what happened? We, me and my co-author, we presented a paper at a conference. And that paper was like heavily based on a chapter that had been accepted for a book. So, we’d already written the chapter, it was under embargo, and it would be published in the book soon. But that was what our presentation was based on, like the findings we report on in that chapter. After the conference, we were invited to submit our conference proceedings paper. And we declined, because we said, well, this will be published as a chapter in the book, like inthe very, very near future. The editor of the conference proceedings came back to us and was very adamant that we had to submit the paper. Yeah. Accepting to give this presentation we accepted to publish in the conference proceedings. So we said, okay, we will, we will write something, we will submit something, but a lot of it will be similar to that chapter. Still, we kind of tried to focus on the things we discussed in our presentation, because we didn’t cover the whole research. So it was similar, but different. Anyways, later on, the book was published first, and then a couple of months later, the conference proceedings. And we received an email from the editor of the conference proceedings, calling us intellectually dishonest. 

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
Oh, goodness, sight. Oh, terrible.

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
She told us that it is absolutely not done in academia, that you publish the same thing twice in different publications. And we just didn’t know what to do. We were young. We thought we communicated it clearly that this is going to be the case. And we felt that well, we were pressured to do it anyways. So, I think that’s my. Also because you’re young and unexperienced. This was not my first publication. But one of the first. I thought I’ve ruined my academic career. Now someone’s going to tell everyone that I’m dishonest and I’m a fraud. So that was a, that was my horror story. 

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
Wow. That’s a good one. Thank you.

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
I’m happy my trauma is serving.

Dr Gaz J Johnson 
But it’s good to see it hasn’t destroyed your career, has it? You see, you know, you’ve taken it on board, you’ve learned from it. And you know, it’s now something we can talk about, perhaps laugh about at a certain degree, which is good.

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
Yeah, absolutely. It was, again, a learning curve. And you become more mindful. Now I read what I’m agreeing to.

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
Back in the day, when I was a librarian in charge of the open access repositories. One of the things I used to say to the academics I worked with so many times: have you actually read what you’ve signed? My job often was to read and analyse lots of license agreements. So, they’re tedious. But my lord, they do sometimes sign you up to things you don’t quite expect.

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
Yeah, but I think, and I think a lot of early career researchers or academics can relate to this. Sometimes you’re just so happy that they’ve accepted you. They want me to give this presentation. They want me to write this chapter. You just trust that you go like: Yes, I’ll do it. And you don’t really read what will be expected.

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
I will confess, I still get excited every time I get accepted for anything. So, it doesn’t, it doesn’t change. But yeah, I’m like you, I now do scrutinize what exactly have I signed up to do? 

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
Exactly. Yeah. 

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
Okay. And then Isabelle, my last question, we’ve kind of touched on this in a few areas already. Which is I would like to ask folks, the one piece of advice they’d give, particularly first-time authors, and you’ve kind of touched already on ideas of getting someone else to kind of look at your paper. We talked about do read what are you getting yourself into. But do you think there was one thing you’d say, like almost to your younger self? 

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
Yeah, I think it ties into what I think is the most important thing I’ve learned in my academic career. Which is that a good author or a published author, because probably they’re not always the same thing, like a published author is not always good author, you have to surround yourself with people who actually want you to be successful. Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed. Because I think you never write alone. Even if you’re the sole author of a piece or a chapter, the writing process is not a process you can do by yourself. I mean, obviously there are the people who will help you with the practical stuff, you can have the people you can bounce ideas off, you can ask for reviews outside of the official review process. And then you have your audience. Like you need to know in the back of your mind, I’m writing this for someone, because there’s going to be days, not at the beginning. Because then you’re very motivated. But there’s going to be days like near the end of the first draft, you’re like, I can’t look at this. And then I think it’s important to understand that actually, there are actual people out there waiting for you to have this published because it will be helpful. So, for first-time authors looking to publish. My advice would be, don’t be blinded with where you want to publish. Like, which big title? Which publishing company? Look for people you want to publish with. Who are the people on the editorial board? Who are the people that will guide the whole process? Are these people I want to work with, I think want me to be a successful author, as you will learn so much from them. And those first successes, which might be in less major journals, or might not be with the publishing company in your field. Like in my field, the publishing company would be John Benjamin’s. Right. So obviously, that was a dream of me, to someday I want to have a chapter in one of their books. But I started off publishing in more accessible journals. With people I knew. I knew they wanted me to be published. And that has led me to a chapter this year in one of John Benjamins Publishing volumes.

Dr Gaz J Johnson  

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
So, I think, yeah, it creates the confidence. These victories you will need to then later on, tackle the big ones. So yes, surround yourself with people who will help you get there.

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
Well, that’s, that’s fantastic advice. Thank you, Isabelle. Really, really good. In which case, we’ve come to the end of our chat for today, I’m going to thank you because that has been absolutely fascinating for me as well. I hope it will be for our audience. So, thank you very much for coming on the Exchanges Discourse podcast.

Dr Isabelle Heyerick  
It was my pleasure and really always, always happy we can talk about the work we do. And if it can support someone else’s, even better.

Dr Gaz J Johnson  
My thanks to Isabelle for a great and highly enjoyable conversation. I do hope that you’ve enjoyed listening to it as well. This will be the last episode of the Exchanges Discourse podcast for 2020. But don’t fret. We will be back early in 2021 with our first double guest episode, as we look towards the publication of our representations of nerds’ special issue later that year. I hope you’ll be able to join us refreshed and revitalized for the new year and ready for some publications related chat. For now, I’m dr. Gary Johnson, your host for this Exchanges Discourse podcast. Remember, you can always find out more about our journal and Exchanges on Oracle or on Twitter at @ExchangesIAS. If you would like to get in touch with a question for the podcast, a potential theme for later episode or to discuss a potential submission, you can get in touch with me via  Thank you for listening. And please don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe.

PhD presentation and dissertation

On March 1st I presented my doctoral study on linguistic interpreting strategies in Dutch – Flemish Sign Language interpreting. Download the thesis here.

In the following video you can watch my presentation (with English captions (select CC) and VGT interpretation) and you can download the PPT presentation (pdf).

The well-being of sign language interpreters in rapidly changed and ever changing times

If we have ever been challenged and have needed to resort to strategies to cope with the everchanging day-to-day life, it has been in 2020, and it continues to be the case in 2021. Finding a healthy balance to navigate the “new normal” requires strategies and coping mechanisms. I wrote the following article on the well-being of sign language interpreters during the pandemic for the WASLI Newsletter, inspired by a workshop offered by Lianne Nap:

Vlaamse Gebarentaal vlog

2020 has ended and what a strange and challenging year it has been. It has also shown us how resilient we can be and how we, no matter what, are and stay connected. Our profession had to respond and adapt to the new reality of interpreting during a pandemic where we find ourselves “locked down”. And whereas we have tackled the practical and technological challenges, turned our homes in interpreting studios and trained ourselves in becoming tech-savvy, what have we done to make sure that we are coping with these changes on a personal, psychological and emotional level?

In November, WASLI Secretary, Isabelle Heyerick as the founder and Vice-President of Tenuto vzw (an organisation offering continuous professional development for Flemish Sign Language interpreters) co-organised and attended a webinar on reflection through the concept of mirror play facilitated by Lianne Nap ( The webinar invited colleagues to reflect on how the physical and technological changes impact their overall energy and how they can tip the scale to the positive. 

At the end of this webinar the impression remained that signed language interpreters have addressed the technological adjustments but are neglecting the mental strain interpreting from home is posing. It is necessary to know the technological and practical ins and outs of interpreting during a pandemic: the technology and equipment we need to be able to do our job. However, it is also necessary to know what we need to safeguard our mental well-being. Lianne pointed out: we are our own tool, there is no replacement if we break. This is especially true when professional and personal boundaries are blurred and our work enters our private homes, and vice versa. We are currently not only interpreters working from our own home, we are also all the other facets of our person in that home, managing our personal, private and professional lives (and the ones we interpret for and with) in one space. The impact of this changed reality should not be underestimated and should be addressed so that we can continue to do the job we love.

“We are our own tool, there is no replacement if we break!”

WASLI encourages interpreter associations and organisations to explore opportunities to devote attention to this topic and ways to address it. For instance, some of our regions have established closed Facebook groups where interpreters can discuss the challenges and support each other. 

Below we gladly provide other examples of what organisations have offered or are offering to their members, which can serve as inspiration. However, if an organised approach is not (yet) possible, getting in touch with your colleague(s) to have a “we are in this together and we will get through this together” chat might be simply enough.

Want to know how colleagues all over the world have experienced and dealt with the professional changes and challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic? Have a look at the results of the surveys carried out by dr. Maartje De Meulder, Oliver Pouliot , and Karolien Gebruers; research report in English , interview in IS, and article in Dutch

* While writing this blog the amazing Twitter account @VirtualNotViral organised a Tweet chat on the subject of well-being with guest Narelle Lemon with some great tips and resources, which they allowed me to share in this blog. You can also read the full archived Tweet chat.

Inspiration for well-being:

ASLI (UK) has a Well-Being fund and offers mentoring opportunities.

NUBSLI (UK) has a buddy scheme, which has been introduced in Belgium, Flanders by Tenuto vzw and BVGT vzw.

AFILS (France) invites interpreters to reflect on the practice of online interpreting. Dossier avec le point de départ de réflexions à mener plus largement sur les pratiques d’interprétation à distance

CIT has an article on “Teaching interpreters about self-care”

The Lean Podcast. With a dedicated episode on Self-Care and four episodes on Remote Interpreting including a session about boundaries

Marjory Bancroft webinar “You’re Worth It! Self-care for Remote Interpreters an Urgent Priority”.

360 supervision has a dedicated area with blogs from various contributors, some focussing on well-being of SLI during the pandemic:

Dr. Narelle Lemon is a self-care advocate who started a daily mindful exercise since the start of the pandemic called #meditation5431. Give it a try!

#BlackLivesMatter, also in the signed language interpreting profession?

This is not about strategies. But it can be, if we want to. This is about what is happening now in the world. Not the biological virus, the other virus: racism and the protests against that virus #BlackLivesMatter.

Vlaamse Gebarentaal versie van deze blog.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown, huge changes in our daily lives -social and professional-, insecurities, being unable to see our family, travel and enjoy the little things of life, we are facing something much bigger. We are facing ourselves. We are facing our history. We are facing what we thought we knew, what we know, what we wish we did not have to know and what we should know. All of us have been in situations where we did not speak up when discrimination happened, when racist remarks were being made, when sexist “jokes” (why do we call them jokes?) were laughed away. I do not want to talk about the personal experiences. That is a journey each of us has to undertake in our own time and at our own pace. I do want to talk about the lack of diversity in our profession: signed language interpreting. 

When we talk about signed language interpreting, we almost immediately think about multiculturalism, multilingualism. However, we tend to limit our conversations, education and knowledge to what this means on to the bicultural axis of deaf culture & hearing culture (whatever those entail) and to the bilingual/bimodal concepts of spoken and signed languages.

Where however are the conversations about the diversity, multicultural knowledge, religious variation we see in society? And I am not only talking about that variety in the deaf communities. What about the hearing people we work with? What about our colleagues? I think that is the sore spot. Where are our interpreter colleagues of colour? Where in Western countries are the Black signed language interpreters, the Asian interpreters, the signed language interpreters from a Muslim background, the Jewish signed language interpreters? When I look at my region in Belgium, Flanders, the society is multicultural, but the Flemish Sign Language (VGT) interpreting community is white and female. Like me. There is no representation of the diverse communities we work with. So how can we expect to serve them adequately?

I have started to educate myself. It’s something each of us can do: learn, start to understand and do better. At the moment I am reading about Black American Sign Language – English interpreters (free download) and I follow the conversations of Black deaf people, educators, researchers, comedians and Black signed language interpreters on Twitter and Instagram. I take in the systemic issues they point to, such as access to education, access to signed language interpreting programmes, ignorance of multicultural topics in those programmes, access to professional associations, underrepresentation in those organisations, racism by service users, racism by colleagues, being “type casted” for only “black” jobs, having to deal with prejudice from educators, colleagues and clients. And I ask myself how can I do better? How can we do better?

I believe signed language interpreting programmes need to have a closer look at the society signed language interpreters work in, the people they work with and the diversity in that society which lacks in the training programmes, the staff and the students.

I believe we need to step away from our binary thinking when it comes to culture and bring the full-scaled multicultural conversation into our profession.

I believe we need to talk about representation of service users through interpreters and what it means if the vast majority of the interpreters are white and female, while the service users are not. 

I believe we need to see, acknowledge and accept that we have long ignored that power imbalances in our profession do not only cut along the deaf – hearing distinction. A lot of “voices” are not being heard.

I believe we can change this. And so maybe this can be about strategies at last.

Each of us can start a conversation: 

  • if we are a signed language interpreter, we could start talking about the lack of diversity in our profession with colleagues and service users
  • if we are a member of a professional signed language interpreter association we could strive for more diversity amongst board members
  • if we are signed language interpreter educators we could start actively recruiting staff from minoritised groups, look for collaborations with spoken language interpreting programmes that address multicultural realities of interpreting, review the current curricula and actively recruit students from underrepresented groups
  • if we are signed language interpreting researchers we can make diversity in our field more visible by addressing these topics and putting them on the research agenda

Let’s get to work. 

Traduction en Français

#BlackLivesMatter, également dans la profession d’interprète en langue des signes ?

Poste original
traduit par Jc & Stephen Sanchez

Il n’est pas question de stratégies. Mais si c’est ce que l’on veut, ça peut le devenir. Le sujet, c’est ce qui se passe dans le monde aujourd’hui. Pas le virus biologique, l’autre virus : le racisme, et les manifestations contre ce virus.

Au lendemain de la pandémie de COVID-19, après le confinement, le changements importants qui ont affecté notre vie quotidienne (sociale et professionnelle), l’insécurité, l’impossibilité de voir nos proches, de voyager et de profiter des petits rien de la vie, nous sommes face à quelque chose d’encore plus grand. Nous sommes face à nous-mêmes. Nous sommes face à l’histoire. Nous sommes face à ce que nous pensions savoir, ce que nous savons, ce que nous souhaiterions ne pas avoir à savoir et ce que nous devrions savoir. Nous nous sommes toutes retrouvé.e.s, un jour ou l’autre, dans des situations où nous avons gardé le silence alors que nous assistions à des faits de discrimination, alors que des remarques racistes étaient proférées ou que des gens riaient à des « blagues » sexistes (et d’ailleurs, pourquoi appelle-t-on cela des blagues ?). Je ne veux pas parler d’expériences personnelles. C’est un chemin que chaque personne doit parcourir, à son rythme et lorsqu’elle estime que c’est le bon moment. Ce dont je veux parler, en revanche, c’est de l’absence de diversité au sein de notre profession : l’interprétation en langue des signes.

Lorsque l’on parle de l’interprétation en langue des signes, on pense spontanément à des notions telles que le multiculturalisme ou le multilinguisme. On a cependant tendance à en réduire la signification, dans nos discussions, notre formation académique et notre connaissance de manière générale, à un axe biculturel fait de culture entendante et culture sourde (et tout ce que cela implique), et au concepts bilingues/bimodaux des langues vocales et des langues signées.

Mais où sont les discussions à propos de la diversité, des connaissances multiculturelles ou des différences religieuses que l’on voit en société ? Et je ne parle pas uniquement de ces différences au sein des communautés sourdes. Qu’en est-il des entendant.e.s qui travaillent avec elleux ? Qu’en est- il de nos collègues? Je pense que c’est un sujet douloureux. Où sont nos collègues interprètes de couleur ? Où sont, dans nos pays occidentaux, les interprètes noir.e.s, les interprètes asiatiques, les interprètes de culture musulmane, les interprètes juif.v.e.s ? Si je prends ma région, la Flandre, en Belgique, la société est multiculturelle, mais la communauté d’interprètes en Langue des Signes Flamande (VGT) est féminine et blanche. Tout comme moi. Il n’y a pas de représentation des différentes communautés avec lesquelles nous travaillons. Comment espérer dès lors leur offrir des services suffisants en qualité ?

J’ai commencé à m’instruire moi-même. C’est quelque chose que chacun.e d’entre nous peut faire : apprendre, commencer à comprendre et faire mieux. En ce moment je suis en train de lire à propos d’interprètes en langue des signes américaine – anglais noir.e.s (Téléchargement gratuit) et je suis des discussions de sourd.e.s noir.e.s, de, de, de comé et d’interprètes en langue des signes noir.e.s sur Twitter et Instagram. J’essaie de comprendre les questions systémiques qu’elleux soulèvent, comme l’accessibilité à l’éducation, l’accessibilité à des programmes d’interprétation en langue des signes, l’ignorance de sujets multiculturels dans ces programmes éducatifs, l’accessibilité aux associations professionnelles, le manque de représentation dans ces organisations professionnelles, le racisme de certaines personnes qui recourent aux services d’un interprète, le racisme des collègues, le fait d’être catalogué et cantonné à des missions « pour les Noirs », de faire face aux a priori des, des collègues et des client.e.s. Et je me pose la question, comment puis-je faire mieux ? Comment pouvons nous faire mieux ?

Je crois que les formations d’interprétation en langue des signes doivent regarder de plus près la société dans laquelle les interprètes travaillent, les personnes avec lesquelles elleux travaillent et la diversité de cette société. Une diversité qui est absente des programmes de formation, au sein du personnel formateur ou des étudiant.e.s.

Je crois que nous devons prendre du recul par rapport à notre façon binaire de penser lorsqu’il s’agit de culture, et intégrer les discussions multiculturelles sous toutes leurs facettes dans nos profession.

Je crois que nous devons discuter de la représentation des usager.e.s des services à travers les interprètes et de ce que cela signifie si la grande majorité des interprètes sont des femmes blanc.he.s, tandis que les usager.e.s des services ne le sont pas.

Je crois que nous devons voir, reconnaître et accepter que nous avons longtemps ignoré le fait que les déséquilibres de pouvoirs dans notre profession ne se résument pas a une distinction sourd.e.s- entendant.e.s. Beaucoup de « voix » ne sont pas entendu.e.s.

Je crois que nous pouvons changer cela. Et peut-être qu’en fin de compte, il est bien question de stratégies.

Chacun.e de nous peut entamer une conversation :

En tant qu’interprète en langue des signes, on pourrait entamer une conversation sur l’absence de diversité dans notre profession, et en discuter avec des collègues et avec des usager.e.s de nos services.

En tant que membre d’une association professionnelle d’interprètes en langue des signes, on pourrait lutter en faveur d’une plus grande diversité parmi les membres du bureau.

En tant que d’interprètes en langue des signes, on pourrait commencer à recruter activement du personnel issu des minorités, à essayer de collaborer avec des formations d’interprètes en langues vocales qui ont affaire à des situations d’interprétations multiculturelles, on pourrait revoir le programme actuel et recruter activement des étudiant.e.s issu.e.s de groupes sociaux sous-représentés.

En tant que en interprétation en langue des signes, on pourrait rendre cette diversité plus visible dans nos recherches en nous intéressant de près à ces questions et en les intégrant au programme de recherche.

Au travail.

Des ressources anti-racistes à destination des personnes blanches.