Justisigns: A European overview of sign language interpreting provision in legal settings

Jemina Napier, Tobias Haug

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Abstract

The Directive 2010/64/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 establishes common minimum rules for European Union (EU) countries on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings as well as in proceedings for the execution of the European arrest warrant. This provision as well as the right to sign language as a human right reiterated by the EUD in the Brussels Declaration ensure that deaf sign language users can access the justice system, typically through sign language interpreters. There is a growing body of literature that examines sign language interpreting provision and practices in legal contexts in various countries. The common theme in the results of all these studies is the limitations faced by deaf sign language users in gaining access to justice, either through inadequate interpreting provision, poor quality interpreting services, or lack of training, accreditation and standards for legal SLIs. This paper reports on a survey that was developed as part of the Justi signs project to provide an overview of the current status of sign language interpreting in legal settings across Europe to better understand what the training needs of interpreters, and other stakeholders such as police officers and deaf people themselves might be. Drawing on key themes from the European Commission survey on legal interpreting in the EU (Hertog & Van Gucht, 2008) and the survey of ASL legal interpreters in the United States (Roberson, Russell & Shaw, 2011), a questionnaire instrument was developed and delivered through an online survey tool. The findings reveal that there are inconsistencies in how legal sign language interpreting provision occurs across Europe.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLaw, Social Justice & Global Development
Volume2016
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2017

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