Repost | DESIGNS project: Wrapping up

by Jemina Napier and Audrey Cameron

This is a (slightly edited) repost from a b/vlog which previously appeared on LifeinLINCS, the website of the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies of Heriot-Watt University. The original vlog was in BSL; the vlog here on Acadeafic is in International Sign.

In this blogpost, we provide an update on the work that has been done on the DESIGNS project (promoting access in employment for deaf sign language users in Europe) since our last blog/vlog in October 2018.

The project is coming to an end on 30 June 2019 and most of the work in the past 6 months has been focused on developing training materials, running pilot workshops for employers, sign language interpreters and deaf people and disseminating the project data.

Up to the end of June, we are continuing to finalise the training materials and filming case studies for the DESIGNS project website.  The next update is due in June where we will introduce the finalised material.

Below is an English translation of the update that is presented in BSL.

Hello! (both)

Jemina: We’re here to give you an update on the DESIGNS Project, which is to do with deaf employment and interpreting. The last project update was November last year, so we thought it was high time we let you know what we’ve been doing over the last 6 months.

Audrey: … yes, we’ve got a lot to tell you.

Jemina: We’ve got a number of things to cover so we’ll alternate between us. So, the first thing to say is that we’ve been out there delivering a lot of training sessions – sorry I need to refer to my notes here to remind me of everything we’ve done… Audrey and I went down to London to run a training session for employers in partnership with an organisation called Vercida, who encourages employers of large organisations to recruit disabled people and embrace diversity; when larger organisations are looking for advice about how develop a more diverse workforce, Vercida are the people they go to which also makes them a perfect fit for this project.  Vercida helped us find three employers; we were hoping to have more but really this session was more of a pilot.

Employers’ workshop in partnership with Vercida in South Bank University.

As part of the DESIGNS Project, we interviewed employers, deaf sign language users and interpreters and we shared our research findings with those employers so that if they were looking to recruit deaf people they would have an idea of what it’s like and we could see that they found that really useful. From the evaluation at the end there were clearly things they hadn’t known about deaf people and interpreters, so they definitely found the session helpful.

We used that session to help us to develop another Master Class that we delivered here in Edinburgh in partnership with Deaf Action, which is a local deaf community organisation based in Edinburgh. We developed and ran this in conjunction with their employment service and interpreting service and some other people from here at Heriot Watt.

Audrey: … and from Deaf2Work…

Jemina: … yes Tony Barlow, who is a deaf employment consultant has a company called Deaf2Work so we all worked in conjunction with one another to deliver this Master Class.

Masterclass workshop for deaf people, sign language interpreters and employers in partnership with Deaf Action and Deaf2Work in Deaf Action, Edinburgh

What was really interesting was that we had a group of employers (some of whom had experience of working with deaf people and some who didn’t); a group of interpreters and a group of deaf people. We started the day together and then split into our respective groups and tailored the content accordingly. Then we all came back together to watch a role play of an interview involving an interpreter, a deaf person and an employer. That was fascinating and generated a lot of valuable discussion.

Masterclass workshop for deaf people, sign language interpreters and employers in partnership with Deaf Action and Deaf2Work in Deaf Action, Edinburgh

… Audrey and I were also involved in delivering a training workshop with the rest of the consortium over in Antwerp for a group of about 40 sign language interpreters from all over Europe (both deaf and hearing) with some having travelled some considerable distance to get there. We presented a lot of the findings from the DESIGNS Project plus again using roleplays, we gave to them an idea what it’s like interpreting for job interviews. That was really interesting and a good experience…

Training workshop in Antwerp for deaf and hearing interpreters

Audrey: … a lot of them wanted to know how to work with deaf people at job interviews which was clearly a worry for them and I think the training was really useful in that respect.

Jemina: So altogether that’s 4 training events we’ve delivered and even more recently Audrey went to the EDSU, the European Deaf Students conference in Prague…

EDSU & CDY’s ‘Studying your way into employment’ seminar in Prague, Czech (photo credit EDSU)

Jemina … and ran a workshop on the DESIGNS Project at which she talked about deaf employment, creating a CV and the barriers deaf people face around employment. This was for students all of whom are currently studying at University level and starting to think about their career path… that was a two and a half hour workshop.

Audrey:   Jemina and I have not just been focusing on training; we’ve also been out there disseminating the data and the findings from the DESIGNS Project. Since November we’ve attended a number of events. The first was in York at St John’s University, which was organised by Dai O’Brien who’s been doing research on what employment for deaf people is like in Higher Education. I, along with Mette Sommer (who is a PhD student here at Heriot Watt) and Nicola Nunn for UCLAN also gave presentations and incorporated our experiences of working in that environment with interpreters. That was a good conference and there were a lot of people there… You can watch the Deaf Spaces in the Workplace conference again via this link.

Dr. Dai O’Brien and Mette Sommer
Dr. Nicola Nunn

The second dissemination event was back in March 2019 where we’d been invited to present at one of the ‘EdSign’ series of lectures at the University of Edinburgh which are run by three universities – Queen Margaret University, Heriot Watt and Edinburgh.

Audrey: The presentation was live streamed; you can watch it here.

EdSign lecture at University of Edinburgh

… and thirdly we were recently at the European Parliament – Helga Stevens who was a deaf MEP at the time hosted an event at which she invited us to share our findings from the DESIGNS Project. We were able to present these to MEPs and the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion came along to listen and I think he soon realised the need to deliver better access to employment and that was good.

Jemina: Really that was the last ‘official’ event of the DESIGNS Project because now we’re starting the process of bringing things to a close and finishing off.

We held the last project meeting the day before the event at the European Parliament. All the other project partners gathered together to work out what we still had left to do and to make sure we tidied up any loose ends and then the next day we were at the parliament.

DESIGNS project partners at the European Parliament

Audrey: But we’re not finished just yet. The report still has to be written and we are filming case studies with employers, deaf people and interpreters for the website and what else…? And then working on the training pack which will also be put up on the website. Then, when absolutely everything is done we’re going to have another Facebook livestream where we’ll be showing you what resources we’ve got and that will be soon – when do you think that will be Jemina?

Jemina: … probably later in the year. Here at Heriot Watt, the project officially ends at the of June; after that we’ll have a few things to tidy up and unfortunately that’ll mean Audrey and I will no longer be working with one another on the project… but who knows maybe we’ll get to work again on something in the future… we’ll see… 

Audrey: But this project has been so worthwhile doing…

Jemina: There will also be more information coming out in BSL – for example, there will be a BSL version of the summary of the research report and summaries of some of the training materials Audrey mentioned so we’ll be back with more information about those another time.

Professor Jemina Napier is Chair of Intercultural Communication and Director of the Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies in Scotland at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. She is an interpreter practitioner, researcher and educator, and conducts linguistic, social and ethnographic explorations of direct and interpreter-mediated sign language communication to inform interpreting studies, applied linguistics, and deaf studies theories. She’s on Twitter as @JeminaNapier

Dr. Audrey Cameron is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Heriot-Watt University, working with Jemina Napier. Her research interests include polymer chemistry, acces to employment, education (science in BSL), and child protection for deaf people. She is also involved in education as a chemistry tutor, in initial teacher education for PGDE primary education and secondary education courses and a Deaf Studies module on MSc Inclusive Education at the University of Edinburgh. She’s on Twitter as @aud2526