June 13, 2008

The Effects of RSI


Part of the reason why there's been no posts on here for a while, I'm cursed with RSI. This makes typing amongst other activities - at times - somewhat painful. It annoys me to say the least, as I've got plenty of things I would like to get on with. I will try and catch up on some political news I've missed (check back later for backdated entries, if you're interested), it seems the best way to do it.

Which brings me neatly onto Coterie of the Zombies, and his posts about the effects of having to give up interpreting due to RSI. See this post:

The GP told me I have many things wrong with my hands and that I should consider stopping interpreting if I can. .... I don't understand how RSI works if I can sort of manage that ... but interpreting hurts.

Howard needs to stop interpreting and gives the timescale for recovery:

So. I had the injections done and my GP was lovely about it all, but he did explain the timescale for recovery from this kind of injury. Apparently it'll be six months before I can expect to return to something approaching normal functionality.

If you read the rest of this post, he then goes onto detail the issues claiming IB. In his latest post he expands on the effects of physio, a psychologist, acupuncture, injections, and generally being overloaded with talking about one's problems; with the money issue not resolved thus needs to consider going back to interpreting even though health issues are not resolved.

Howard is currently trying to sell some artwork, in an attempt to cover basic living expenses, details in this post.

The pain from RSI is very real, and if ignored it does get worse (I've been there). For interpreters is there a feasible alternative to interpreting, if you've spent many years training solely for one profession?

Ask the Readers:
This is really aimed at interpreters. Do you have a contingency plan for RSI, apart from safe working practices? Perhaps insurance, secret savings stashed away, a fall back skill? Something else, or do you hope for the best? How should we be protecting interpreters (thinking prevention is better than cure)? Throw us your thoughts in the comments.

See also:
Sign Language Interpreters at a High Ergonomic Risk

April 19, 2008

Sign Language Interpreters at a High Ergonomic Risk

Bar Camp LeedsScience Daily reports of research that sign language interpreting comes with a high risk from RSI (or similar), following research from RIT’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering:

The research indicates that interpreting causes more physical stress to the extremities than high-risk tasks conducted in industrial settings, including assembly line work. It also found a direct link between an increase in the mental and cognitive stress of the interpreter and an increase in the risk of musculoskeletal injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis.

And goes onto state:

“The impact of repetitive stress in industrial and office settings has been well documented, but there is less data on the risk of ergonomic injury to sign language interpreters,” ..... “Our findings indicate that interpreters may actually be at a higher risk of injury than other professions.”

This research has to be welcomed as a health and safety measure, and lends weight to the associated risks of the profession. However, does this mean any injury related insurance premiums might take a hike?

Ask the readers:
Do you get RSI, and if so, how do you control or reduce it?

Science Daily: Sign Language Interpreters At High Ergonomic Risk
RIT Study: Sign Language Interpreters at High Ergonomic Risk

January 25, 2008

Almost too insulting for words

Forgive me for losing my sense of humour, but I was definitely NOT amused this morning when I read Deafweekly's report on a "sign language lady randomly waving her arms around during a British children's TV programme." You can read more about it here.

Er, is it real?! Someone, please reassure me either way.

If it isn't, is the RNId quote fake too?

And if is, is it really 2008, or did I wake up in 1968 or something?

- Jen

May 15, 2007

Parliament: Regulation of LSPs

Yesterday a question was tabled in the House of Commons around Language Service Professionals. A more accessible page is available on They Work for You.

Cheryl Gillan (Chesham & Amersham, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills

(1) if he will take steps to protect the professional title of language service professionals for deaf people, including (a) BSL/English interpreters, (b) lipspeakers, (c) deaf-blind interpreters and (d) speech to text reporters;

(2) if he will take steps to create a register of all language service professionals for deaf people, including (a) BSL/English interpreters, (b) lipspeakers, (c) deaf-blind interpreters and (d) speech to text reporters for public bodies;

(3) when he will answer Questions (a) (i) 115951 and (ii) 115952 tabled on 11 January, and (b) 126821, tabled on 7 March, by the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham.

The Minister answered with this reply:

Bill Rammell (Minister of State (Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education), Department for Education and Skills)

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) have responsibility for funding providers of post-16 further education and training. This funding includes Additional Learning Support (ALS) which is used by providers to fund the additional learning needs of learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, including those learners with hearing impairments. Providers determine how their ALS funding is used to ensure that it meets the needs of their learners.

The Department is not responsible for protecting the professional titles, or providing a register of language service professionals, as it is for providers to determine how best to meet the needs of their learners, and therefore which professionals to use to deliver this support.

This totally does not get the issue, not answer it.

Please go over there now and vote no (that it does not answer the question). The link is here (voting is in the right column).

This clearly does not answer the question, and actually detracts completely from the issue. The Government protects professions such as: social workers, teachers, solicitors, barristers, etc. So why is it detracting responsibility here?

As a side note, why are these called Language Service Professionals anyway? I absolutely detest the term. Or should we be welcoming this? Since when is speech to text a language? Don't get me wrong, I recognise there's other forms of communication support, but isn't this an open ticket for more confusion? Its difficult enough trying to get across the issues around minority languages to the mainstream anyway.

I guess in part, a lack of consultation is getting me riled up here, did anyone actually bother asking DEAF people? There is zero ownership in the UK, and deaf organisations here are so bad at it. Now someone is imposing on us that we should be making up sentences such as, "Hello, I will need an LSP to access the meeting".

Does any other country use this (crap) term?

See also:
Interpreters and the whole set up scaring me

May 3, 2007

Interpreters and the whole set up scaring me

Warning, this post is long but it raises some serious questions around the nature of interpreting, specifically in the UK. I don't even want to be typing this, I've got other things I want to do, and I'm completely irritated that it has to be flagged. Blogging this, simply because people need to get it, an education needs to happen and more importantly open conversational dialogue that is involved.

Before I get to the point I want to mention a situation I once observed at school, just to illustrate why I can't stomach this sort of stuff, and how it all ties in:

Back in the 1980s, when I was a teenager, another deaf kid at school was naughty. I don't even remember what he did, but something within the school grounds. As a way of dealing with it, the Teacher of the Deaf basically said to the deaf child, if, "I will take your hearing aids off as punishment". And they did. This deeply disturbed me at the time, and I've never forgotten it to the point it haunts me. Apart from the arguments around it played on not just an imbalance of power, but on the fact the majority can oppress. The fact that they had enforced the need for hearing aids in the first place (through an oral environment, and no other support), then used a person's basic functions as a bargaining tool. Reminds me of a form of torture.

Moving on. A decade ago I witnessed an interpreter do a similar thing to a Deaf person. Nothing to do with hearing aids, but playing with power. In a nutshell, the interpreter wanted the Deaf person to do something. In the same breath they used a situation they had interpreted, (where the Deaf person as a participant), as a subtle form of blackmail to get the Deaf person to do what they wanted. To the point where the Deaf person complied, as in doing something else was not an option. You do this, otherwise I will tell scenario. It made my blood run cold, I had flashbacks over what had happened at school. It still freaks me out each time I think about it.

I've witnessed exactly the same kind of bullying and threats many in deaf organisations too, where Deaf people are bullied into agreeing to something. I'm not even going to go there, right now.

These experiences are important, in terms of where I'm coming from with what I'm about to say below.

A few weeks back I did an analysis of VeeSee over at Noesis. I did this, as a person really interested in online space and more specifically 'social software' and its application to Deaf people. The post attracted comments, some of which were the run of the mill attacks, which can be ignored and not important in the grand scheme of things. There's interpreting issues in those comments, but these are rather academic or practical in nature, which I'm not going to address in this post.

However, one comment disturbed me:

You are playing with fire Alison .....interpreters know a lot about who they interpret for and your are exposing the deaf community by what you do and what you wish to provoke by your own shortcomings. You are a very very silly young woman in thinking you can do that.

Just the sort of comment to make me stop completely in my tracks and not forget about it.

For the boring record here, I'm imperfect. Big deal. Comes with being human. Also, noone knows me from interpreting, you just see how I interacted in a given situation from your perspective not knowing the full dynamics. The situations were bog standard work ones: team meetings, and interviewing other people. Nothing outrageous happened, and there's nothing to know. However, that's not the point.

This kind of stuff, just as a witnessed that interpreter a decade ago, brings the profession into disrepute, and makes me never to want to use an interpreter again. Except I don't have a lot of choice. Guess what, I'm Deaf and at some point need to interact with people who use spoken English! Yes I do know that there's great interpreters, but that's not the point here.

That comment comes across as something like this: Be careful what you say: as in do what you are told, please me, because I know all about you. If you don't do what I say, then you are stupid. You are a powerless Deaf person, and can't do without interpreters. Remember interpreters control you.

Makes me to the back teeth sick, and down the toilet goes my respect for the profession. It doesn't matter if I'm capable of taking the attitude of along the lines no way are you going to manipulate me in this manner, I'm still freaked.

What happens if for example a Deaf person let an interpreter into a mental health situation, exposed their innermost stuff. Then a few months or years later, they start coming out with the line: remember we know all about you.


Okay. So this terrifies me, but I'm not going to sit back into submission. However, there's more vulnerable people who might not be in a position to fight back, what about them? A bit like alleged abuse that never gets reported, easier to sweep under the carpet. So it happens to someone else.

I wanted to flag this issue up with IRP or ASLI, just to ensure the issue is being addressed.

So I go to the ASLI directory, name not there. I contact ASLI, reply I get: "if a name doesn't appear there, then you can reliably conclude that they are not a member." This was double checked, to ensure there was no gap between joining and the membership pages being updated.

Next stop CACDP directory. Not there. E mail CACDP, just for clarification. I get the reply, "Only people who appear on the Online Directory are registered".

Great. No redress.

Now I have yet more questions in my head than answers. This is why I'm blogging about this, because there's nowhere I can go.

- Is a person allowed to use MRSLI after their name, if they are not on the register? MRSLI - Member of the Register of Sign Language Interpreters. I asked someone at CACDP this, and I'm waiting for a reply.


(Click onto the image to enlarge).

- If someone uses MRSLI and they are not supposed to, what happens? Anyone got any clout?

- Who is policing the letters thing? What happens if no-one has any clout, as above?

- What about retrospective membership, and using a situation at a later date. For example, say if I used an interpreter in 2001, when they were registered, thus thinking I had something to fall back on. By 2007, they have come off the IRP register or not an ASLI member, and for argument's sake, broke confidentiality a few years later. Do the bodies actually have any power to call on a member to be accountable?

- Incidentally, the interpreter in the above situations was never booked by me but my employer and/or my employer's interpreting agency. It brings so many questions into my head around the power Deaf people have over access. You'd get the interpreter you were booked by an agency, and agencies here basically call the shots. There is a kind of mentality that goes on within deaf organisations that Deaf people themselves cannot be experts at interpreting issues, because they don't hold some qualification or other.

- Statutory registration of interpreters, would it be a good thing? Voluntary registration and regulation just by the sector scares the hell out of me right this second.

Right now I see a situation where unregistered interpreters can be booked (as a consumer how much choice do you really have)? Secondly, if someone was registered, then later come off the register, subsequently behaving in whatever manner using knowledge they've attained from assignments (perhaps years ago). Guess what, there appears to be no redress. That's apart from blogging about it.

Update: CACDP said, "People who are not on the register should not be using MRSLI after their name as this would be misrepresentation. If someone is not currently registered it does not necessarily mean that they are not qualified to be an MRSLI (although that could be the case) but they have made a choice not to register so should not be using the title.".

My comments: qualification is not the real issue here, since the core of my comments is redress and accountability, however I asked CACDP for clarification around the use of MRSLI which they gave.

In relation to misrepresentation, this is to be found in the law of contract. The issue here, is that for this to be enforced someone who has entered into a contract, to book the interpreter's services needs to flag it. Will they?

The second point is that a contract is often between the service provider e.g. conference organiser, Employer, even Access to Work and the interpreter. Not with the Deaf person themselves, who would need to bring a separate action against say the service provider. Will service providers actually get the issue, and really be bothered?

There is still a lack of power by a body to police things like this, and relies unorganised individuals to flag such things. For example, if someone calls themselves a solicitor and is not, the Law Society can follow it up, and has the necessary powers to enforce this. However, as far as I can see, noone has any real power here?

Just highlighting the weakness in relation to a potential redress or remedy on offer. Misrepresentation still does not address other issues though, and the scenario above, I fail to see how it could even be subject to contract law, and belongs to professional ethics. Only there's no statutory or case law obligation?

April 11, 2007

Petition for Interpreters in Legal Proceedings

A Number 10 petition petition has been set up around the use of accredited and professional interpreters in legal proceedings. This isn't limited to BSL, but other languages too:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ensure that accredited and professional interpreters are used in legal proceedings, from time of arrest throughout the judicial system, and that 'language agencies' who provide unqualified so-called interpreters should be strictly monitiored and disqualified from providing interpreting services. More details

Further detail is provided as:

Unqualified interpreters are being employed at police stations and at Court, to provide a service that must be accurate and professionally undertaken.

Only interpreters from the 'Nation Register of Public Service Interpreters' should be used for judicial purposes (including the initial stages of an investigation). Members have proved themselves to be proficient, having passed stringent exams, and are monitored regularly.

Most agencies employ unqualified interpreters, many of whom cannot speak English; they are generally unqualified and do not meet the standard required, thus, foreign offenders 'get off', due to poor interpretation services from the outset.

The police, CPS, and Courts MUST use accredited interpreters.

With so many foreign migrant workers in the UK, the NRPSI network of accredited interpreters MUST be used, in order that foreign offenders can be treated in the same way as indigenous Britons.

Whilst I support this, I feel frustrated how little people really understand how things work online. Again, as with my question around the subtitling petition, I immediately ask is the time frame realistic? Waiting one whole year loses momentum, and a week is a long time in cyberspace, nevermind a year. I will have forgotten about this in a month, and the long timeframe discourages me from the urgency to address this. Even if you need time to reach out to others through conferences, and written publications, it is still too long. Do people really need one year to collect names?

March 28, 2007

Moving away from interpreting: a dilemma

I've followed Howard's blog for a while, and I enjoy reading it. There's something about reading a blog by a terp, especially if they've interpreted for you. Its easy to see and appreciate Howard's human side when you meet him anyway. The massive wall and aloofness that comes with some interpreters out there is absent. However, reading his blog allows you to get to know him better, and actually see the person behind the interpreter.

Deaf wise he said something recently, and he wonders in this post:

With me moving away from interpreting as my only real income, I've had some anxieties about whether I am, as one person put it, betraying Deaf people because I'm not bad at the job, so I'd leave my clients at risk of being stuck with substandard support. Remember the nightmares I had about slaughtering Deaf people? I think seeing some interpreters like Jacqui assuages that fear.

There's a selfish element of wanting to keep interpreters in their profession, the shortage of interpreters and all that. However its impossible to take that stance when you see him more for who he is through his writing.

November 9, 2006

Interpreter Saga continued

Today I got two replies around the relevancy of Deaf events to interpreters, and a continuation of this post. Before sharing, I would like to state there's many issues around moderation of lists here, and the inability to engage in conversation because egos come first. No I don't have time for it either. This is what I would like to try and dissect in future posts, and why blogging is important as a future means of publication.

It means that your postings will be subject to moderation. E-newsli is about sign language interpreting and sign language interpreters. Your posting was not even remotely about that. If there had been some hidden connection, you should have checked it out with me or Frank. I do not want this newsgroup to be hijacked by other agendas, as has happened with other newsgroups recently.

Since Deaf UK Events is used by interpreting agencies, e.g. to advertise NVQ Level 4, Magistrate Court Training, etc., this is a strange reply.

And a reply to my longer e mail:

Thank you for sharing your opinions with us.

When someone else asked about this on list, the reply was:

I am not going to enter into a discussion about this.

My direct reply was, and so people can get a better picture:

If you actually mean Deaf UK, I'm not actually responsible for what has been happening over there, and on no attempt to hyjack anywhere. Please do not judge a situation on a whole lot of wrong information, where I have largely refrained to respond to date on the grounds of xxxx mental health, and this has actually come from nowhere. If you mean something else, please say so. It would be helpful if you were more specfic here, and not resort to generalisations. If you have any questions, including any wrong information you've been fed from elsewhere, please go ahead and ask them.

Secondly, as a long term subscriber to E-Newsli, 7+ years, it is nothing but victimisation. The list has had some very off topic postings recently, including personal e mails which is even less about interpreting. Someone's mother in hospital, relevant to interpreting? Its not just one mistake e mail. Additionally, I actually fail to see how cued speech had any relevance to BSL/English interpreting being way off topic, as discussed on the list recently. (This point was not made by me, but an interpreter and reminded me of relevancy). If you put these people into moderated mode, then why didn't you give them a public scolding off too, without even contacting them?

Furthermore, get nothing in terms of an apology from you, and as remains a public e mail. Secondly, a complete refusal to engage in dialogue. Another example of patronising and oppressive behaviour. I've not done anything to you, I posted one e mail which you / Frank did not agree with, that I was not aware of breaking any rules (no periodic reminder, since I've been a member since around 1998). Have posted to this list in the past (been a member since 1998/9) and you have not indicated otherwise, again no communication from you if you are unhappy with my postings or I am breaking some rule (didn't even know about them) / should I be doing xyz. Suddenly, I get moderated, no direct communication to sort out and told about publically. As explained, I thought my post had a lot of relevance to interpreting, and the way this has been handled this smacks of arrogance.

Every interpreted event I've gone to, the interpreter invariably asks me: how can I get more Deaf people there? I get comments from interpreters, Deaf people don't come, use it or lose it etc. The interpreter even thanks me for showing up! On the grounds of this feedback, as a user of interpreters for 14 years yes I thought interpreters would be grateful for a tool. (The existing ones are streamlined, not every theatre subscribes to SPIT, every art gallery to MAGIC etc). You have just made a decision for all interpreters and sent out a strong message, interpreted performances, and actual attendance of, is not an interpreting issue. I will remember that one. Secondly, I assume there is no longer any need for interpreters to go to other events, as an issue of continuing professional development? Again, since you are both involved with the training of interpreters, this is another one I find extremely worrying. Interpreters don't subscribe to other lists, pure and simple (have been moderator for way too many years to know this). That is my only reason for posting this, even if you actually might find this incredibly hard to believe.

Eventually got a reply:

I simply don’t have the time to debate this. I have other priorities. I’ve made a decision in what I perceive to be the best interests of newsgroup’s members. If you don’t like the way I and Frank handle things, you can simply ask to be unsubscribed.

There's a lot I could say here, but bottom line this leaves me with the thought on how dated e mailing lists are.

November 8, 2006

Interpreted Events relevant to Interpreters or interpreting issues?

Deaf people in the UK are currently exposed to what is silly season as far as e mail lists go, and there appears to be no stopping. More about this in a future post, I have far too many thoughts on this one.

Today I got banned from an e mail list (more about later), Gmail is not responding and secondly put in moderated mode of an interpreting list I've been a member for 7+ years.

Let's focus on E-newsli first, because I think its relevant, and its actually easier to illustrate. As background, I've possibly posteI won't add any additional comments, readers can judge for themselves. Sent this e mail to E-Newsli, a list which has received cross postings in the past. On the subject of cross posting, this did not go out to any other interpreting list:

Please pass onto your contacts. Apologies for cross posting. --------------------------------------

The way Deaf UK Events is going to be managed is about to change. Here is why:

- Ever complained about there being no central place for events in the UK?
- Wish you could filter events by area or what you are interested in?
- Tried organising an event, and unsure if it clashes with anything?
- Fed up of e mail being disorganised?
- Wish you could add events yourself?
- Would you like to organise who's going?
- Wish there was a facility to discuss an event before it happens? Perhaps a meet up before.
- Wish you could add events to your own personal calendar at the click of a button? E.g. Outlook, Google calendar, iCal.
- Wish you could find a map of the venue at the click of one button?

If you have asked yourself any of the above questions, then this new
site is for you.

For the site to succeed, we need people to:

a) Sign up, and use
b) Event organisers to add their own events.

This is vital. Why this is of benefit to everyone, you can find out more in FAQ section.

Questions? Please use the discussion at the bottom of the new events page, or email.


Later in the evening I received e mail which I didn't quite understand, so I sent this (e mail received below it):

Roger - I don't understand what this means? Please advise. (Please note I'm using this e mail address as a temp measure).


Wed, 8 Nov 2006 21:12:33

xxxxxxx has just altered your subscription options for the E-NEWSLI list as per the "SET E-NEWSLI
REVIEW" command. For more information about subscription options, send a "QUERY E-NEWSLI" command to LISTSERV@JISCMAIL.AC.UK.

This I did not get a reply to, instead the following is sent publically to a list:


Apologies or not, this is an unacceptable posting. It bears no connection to BSL interpreting. The least that could have been done is to ask either Frank Harrington or me before posting, justifying it. You are now subject to
moderation before you can post.

Roger Beeson
e-newsli co-owner

Since I'm on moderated mode, here's my direct reply:


I posted information about the new Deaf UK Events site, because it was relevant to the list, in that most events listed will be interpreted. I would have thought interpreters would like to know about a service to advertise the events they were interpreting at, to encourage Deaf people to attend.

The majority of events that are published, are BSL/English Interpreted, which you and other interpreters actually depend on for work. Hence the relevancy of the post to E-newsli.

I know that many people do not even turn up at these events, and a frequent complaint is down to lack of Deaf people using such events. One cannot and exist without the other, and thus is supposed to be a tool to use for all. If you expected me to have contacted either Frank Harrington or yourself before posting, justifying it, then you could have set the example by showing me the courtesy of writing me offlist first to explain my error, and not to the group.

Not only that, I haven't abused my membership to the list, and being placed under moderating for this error, smacks of heavy handedness, since I have been a member of this list for 7+ years?

I can't tell you how to moderate this list, and I wasn't even aware that I was meant to ask permission first. But more to the point, if what I have done is against list rules, then perhaps you need to clarify. In the meantime, I still cannot get my head around how interpreted events and attendance in relation to, is of no relevance to interpreters and interpreting issues.


Question to readers: do you think a place for advertising events (the majority interpreted events) is relevant to interpreters or not, and why?