Deaf academics' perceptions of 'trust' in relationships with signed language interpreters

Dai O'Brien, Gabrielle Hodge, Sannah Gulamani, Katherine Rowley, Robert Adam, Steven Emery, John Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


The concept of 'trust' is frequently used when discussing the working relationship between deaf signers and signed language interpreters, with interpreters often claiming that trust is a prerequisite to a successful interaction. This paper presents original data from an in-depth research project which used collaborative autoethnography to gather the experiences of seven deaf academics who work regularly with British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters, who interpret between BSL and spoken English, to analyse the concept of 'trust' in our working relations with BSL interpreters. We found that 'trust' is not a useful or productive concept for our interpersonal and professional aims. Instead, we outline multiple ways in which deaf academics can assess and evaluate interpreters' values, competencies, and performance without relying on 'trust'. Our findings provide an important, powerful and under-explored perspective on the working relations between deaf academics and interpreters. We suggest these findings can be applied by deaf BSL signers and interpreters in contexts beyond academia, and constitute an important contribution to the literature on interpreting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-42
Number of pages18
JournalTranslation and Interpreting
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2023


  • Deaf
  • interpreting
  • signed language interpreting
  • signed languages
  • trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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