Kerry Deaf Resourcec Centre Update 09.01.12

Our service re-opened on Wednesday and we would like to wish our staff and
clients a very Happy New Year. We hope you all had a great Christmas.
Thankfully we didn’t have the cold spell we had last year. We would like to
thank Veronica, Suzanne and Willie who were on call during the Christmas and
New Year period.

There is a fantastic video going around Facebook at the moment. It shows how
the Deaf community is made up of diverse people. From every walk of life, in
every corner of the world. Watch this powerful video, a signature statement
on just how truly special and global the Deaf community is. With people from
27 different countries participating, We Are Deaf is a special message from
Deafnation to you.

MEDISIGNS represents a ground-breaking initiative that focuses on providing
a better understanding of the impact that interpreted interaction in medical
contexts has within the framework of a blended learning programme for Deaf
people, interpreters and those in the medical profession. There has been
very limited research on the experiences of Deaf people in interpreted (or
not) healthcare settings in Europe. Thus, a key aim is to benchmark aspects
of the Irish experience vis-à-vis our European project partners.

Medisigns aim to collect preliminary benchmarking data through two avenues:
(1) a survey monkey questionnaire for interpreters in Ireland, and (2) a
series of focus groups with Deaf people and interpreters who self-select to

The core goal of the MEDISIGNS project is the creation of CPD training in a
blended learning environment for interpreters/ medical staff and Deaf
people. This small-scale research exercise arises from the need to collect
evidence regarding Deaf people’s experience of medical encounters with/
without interpreters.

The study is designed to investigate:
(1) Issues about access to health care by Irish Deaf people,
(2) The provision of interpreting in medical settings (e.g. GP, Accident and
Emergency, maternity care, dentist, meeting with consultant, having an
operation, etc.) in Ireland
(3) Issues affecting interpreted medical interactions in Ireland (e.g. what
happens when interpreters are provided.

All data collected is anonymous. Results will feed into reports on the Irish
situation regarding interpreter provision in medical settings and help in
planning continuous professional development courses for Irish interpreters
in the field, and in training.

If you are an interpreter, you can take the survey online at
Further information on Medisigns is available at: or by email to and/or

At present, Deaf people are not typically permitted to serve as jurors in
criminal trials. There have been ad hoc instances of Deaf people
participating in juries in the USA and New Zealand. We are conducting a
major research project to assess whether Deaf people can participate in the
administration of justice, which was initially initiated by the New South
Wales Law Reform Commission in Australia, with a view to informing law

The team are now looking for sign language interpreters and legal
professionals who live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United
Kingdom, South Africa, Canada or the United States to participate in stage
(2) of the project – to complete an online survey regarding perceptions of
sign language interpreting in court and whether deaf people can serve as
jurors. ( It should take no more
than 25 minutes to complete the survey.

The three stages of the project involve: (1) deaf and hearing people
completing a comprehension test as ‘mock-jurors’ to ascertain if they can
comprehend the content of legal discourse (completed), (2) a survey and
follow-up interviews with interpreters and legal professionals about their
perceptions of sign language interpreting in court and whether deaf people
can serve as jurors, and (3) a mock-trial involving a deaf juror and sign
language interpreters to evaluate the actual impact of having a deaf person
on a jury.

The project is being led by A/Prof Jemina Napier in the Department of
Linguistics at Macquarie University in collaboration with Prof David Spencer
in the Faculty of Law and Management at La Trobe University in Australia,
with assistance from Dr Meg Rohan (a statistician) and Gerry Shearim as a
research assistant, and the different stages have been funded through a
Macquarie University External Collaborative Grant and a Macquarie University
New Staff Grant (stage 1) and a Macquarie University DVC-Research
Discretionary Fund Grant (stage 2).

The results of this project will lead to a greater understanding of the
feasibility for deaf people to serve as jurors, and will potentially
influence international law reform, access to justice, and rights as
citizens to participate in the administration of justice.

If you have any comments, questions or concerns about the study please do
not hesitate to contact: or

Kerry Deaf Resource Centre
4 Gas Tce, Tralee

Mobile (text): 087 633 4687

Fax: 066 712 0386
Tel: 066 712 0399