Dr. Beppie van den Bogaerde

Beppie van den Bogaerde

Introducing research to sign language interpreter students: From horror to passion

According to Roy and Napier (2015), the earliest research on sign language interpreting dates to the mid-1970s. More recently we have acknowledged the need for research to be part of sign language interpreter (SLI) education programs (Winston, 2013).

At present, educators feel an urgent need to embed research in their SLI programs with two goals: first, to firmly base their teaching in evidence-based practice, and second, to teach future interpreters how to continuously improve their practice. In order to sketch an impression of how to operationalize the process of embedding research in SLI education, I present a case study of how my the SLI education program in the Netherlands (Utrecht) addressed this issue from 2002 onwards.

The Netherlands has a binary system of higher education, which distinguishes between professional education (universities of applied sciences) and scientific education (research universities). As a direct result of the 1999 European Union Bologna Declaration, all European universities adopted the bachelor/master system. One outcome of this change was that vocational programs had to implement research-related subjects into their curricula, which was traditionally practice-focused in nature. It also meant that a professional master’s degree had to be developed.

In our four-year bachelor SLI program, we developed a continuous line of research activities that were embedded across several course subjects. In my keynote lecture, I present the implementation process and describe how (some of our) students went from horror to passion about interpreting practice research.


Beppie van den Bogaerde is an English-Dutch translator/interpreter turned sign language linguist. Her experience lies in L1 and L2 sign language (SL) acquisition, the didactics of SL teaching, and interpreter training and research.

She holds two positions: at the Hogeschool Utrecht, University of Applied Sciences (Deaf Studies); and at the University of Amsterdam (Sign Language of the Netherlands). In 2016-2017, she is the honorary Julien and Virginia Cornell visiting professor at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, where she is teaching courses in sign language as a foreign language and bimodal bilingualism. Her main interest is in bridging between theory and practice in the field of sign language teaching and interpreting.

Dr. Xiaoyan Xiao

Dr. Xiaoyan Xiao

Sign Lan–age on Chinese TV: Aw–eness and Ac–s, But Still M–sing the Mark

With a growing number of favorable laws and regulations issued by the Chinese government to create access for its 20 million deaf people, currently 250 national and local television channels broadcast sign language interpreted news on a daily or weekly basis. This type of interpreting is arguably the most visible form of sign language interpreting (SLI) in China and may have a big impact on the general public and educators of deaf people in terms of raising awareness of sign language and deaf people. However, previous studies (e.g. Xiao & Yu, 2009; Xiao & Li, 2013; Liu, et al, 2013) show that these programs are not well received by deaf viewers.

This presentation is based on an ongoing project to identify the missing mark and previous studies which examine deaf viewers’ comprehension and report the status quo of SLI in China. The presentation also explores the huge potential and challenges for SLI training, research and services for the world’s biggest deaf population.


Xiaoyan Xiao is a professor from Xiamen University in China. Trained as a spoken language interpreter and a linguist, she has taught Chinese-English interpretation in Xiamen University for more than 20 years.

Since 2007, after spending a sabbatical year in UCLA, she began to investigate signed language interpreting in China. During 2012 to 2013, she spent another sabbatical year at Gallaudet University as a Fulbright Research Scholar. Dr. Xiao and her colleagues have received research grants from Chinese National Social Sciences Academy, Chinese National Language Committee, the British Council and EU Asia-Link.

Currently she serves as the co-director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Delaware.

Dr. Robert Adam

Robert Adam

Mind the gap: What is missing for Deaf interpreters and translators?

Since the 1960s and 1970s, sign language interpreting (SLI) has emerged from the shadows and grown into a profession with training courses and accreditation systems implemented in many countries around the world (Napier, Goswell, & McKee, 2006). Deaf interpreters have subsequently become used in different settings and domains (Adam, Carty, & Stone, 2011; Boudreault, 2005; Forestal, 2005), and it is argued that deaf interpreters and translators as a profession are following a similar trajectory as hearing interpreters followed 30 or 40 years ago.

Deaf interpreters and translators are going through a stage where practitioners in countries around the world may or may not be qualified or trained but are still working – and meeting a need. Deaf interpreters also experience a lower status than hearing interpreters (Morgan & Adam, 2012).

There are also still gaps in training, recognition and employment opportunities. What are they, and what needs to be done? What are the research gaps that reflect the gaps in the training and practice of deaf interpreters and translators? This paper will conclude with a summary of both the first Summit of Deaf Translators and the Symposium on Signed Language Interpretation and Translation Research, highlighting common and related themes, ideas for further research, and key areas for collaboration.


Robert Adam is Director of Continuing Professional Development at the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre, University College London. He is a qualified sign language interpreter and translator and has worked as a deaf interpreter in Australia, the USA and the UK. His research interests, along with deaf interpreters, are bilingualism, language contact, and minority sign language communities.

He is also Coordinator of the World Federation of the Deaf Expert Group on Sign Language and Deaf Studies. He is from Melbourne, Australia, and currently lives in the UK.

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