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Personal profile

Research interests

Adopting sociolinguistic, discourse analytic and sociological approaches to inform the wider fields of interpreting studies, deaf studies and applied linguistics, Professor Napier's primary research interests focus around several strands of sign language and intercultural communication:

(1)   language and communication in the context of professional interpreter-mediated communication – primarily with (but not limited to) sign language interpreters and signing deaf communities.

(2)   the acts of multilingual communication and language brokering (non-professional interpreting) in families that use signed languages to communicate;

(3)   the practice of translanguaging between spoken, written and signed languages by deaf and hearing sign language users in professional and non-professional contexts;

(4)   the intersections between sign language multilingualism, translanguaging, communication choices, interpreting, and identities;

(5)   interpreting pedagogy, using action research to explore aspects of distance education, blended learning, curriculum innovation and discourse-based teaching practices.

She is also developing an interest in gender and work-related issues in relation to languaging practices, the sign language interpreting profession and perfomativity and health, wellbeing and access to health information.



Professor Jemina Napier is Chair of Intercultural Communication and is currently the Associate Principal for Research Culture & People for Heriot-Watt University. She previously served as the Director of Research for the School of Social Sciences (2019-2022), the Director of the Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies in Scotland (CTISS)(2018-2021) and Head of the Department of Languages & Intercultural Studies (2014-2018).

After completing an MA in BSL/ English Interpreting at Durham University in the UK in 1998, Jemina moved to Australia to undertake her PhD in Linguistics at Macquarie University, which she completed in 2001. She then established the Postgraduate Diploma/Masters programme in Auslan/ English Interpreting in the Department of Linguistics at Macquarie University in Sydney in 2002, and subsequently became Head of Translation & Interpreting programmes and Director of the Centre for Translation & Interpreting Research from 2007-2012, where she is now an Adjunct Professor. Jemina took up her Chair position at Heriot-Watt Univeristy in February 2013. She is also a Visiting Professor at the Centre for Deaf Studies at Trinity College Dublin and a Corresponding Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. In 2022 she completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Gender, Sexuality & Society from Birkbeck University London.

Jemina has over 150 publications (books, journal articles and book chapters) and has managed various Australian, UK and European research projects totalling over £5 million worth of funding. She was inaugural Editor of the International Journal of Interpreter Education and remains a member of the editorial board, and serves on the editorial or advisory boards of several other journals and book series. Jemina served as a member of the Expert Committee on Accessibility for the World Federation of the Deaf (2015-2019). She currently represents Heriot-Watt University on several research related boards, including the Scottish Institute for Policing Research, the Scottish Universities Insight Institute, and the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities.

As well as a world-leading researcher in her field, Jemina is still an interpreter practitioner. She has practiced as a signed language interpreter since 1989, and works between English and British Sign Language (BSL), Australian Sign Language (Auslan) or International Sign. As such she is a Fellow of the Association of Sign Language Interpreters (UK) and also of the Chartered Institute of Linguists UK. She is also past President of the Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association (ASLIA) and was an inaugural board member of the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI).

Roles & Responsibilities

Chair of Intercultural Communication

Associate Principal for Research Culture & People


Research Group Contact Details

Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies Scotland

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


  • P Philology. Linguistics
  • intercultural communication
  • signed language interpreting
  • interpreter-mediated communication
  • interpreting pedagogy
  • discourse and communication
  • applied linguistics
  • interpreting studies
  • deaf studies
  • family language policy


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