In the extensive literature on sign language interpreting, very little attention has been given to deaf interpreters’ understanding of themselves as professionals. This gap may be due to the fact that professional sign language interpreting is often seen to be synonymous with hearing people. The research therefore set out to gain an insight into how deaf interpreters’ view themselves as professionals, what their understanding of ‘being a professional’ is, and what issues are of concern to them. The authors present and discuss findings from an analysis, informed by professionalism theory, of data derived from interviews with 5 deaf interpreters in Ireland who agreed to participate in the study. A key finding is that deaf interpreters struggle with the idea of themselves as professionals due to a number of factors: First, the stigma of the sign language interpreting profession being a hearing dominion; Second, the lack of professional interpreting courses and qualifications available for deaf interpreters; and finally, the low number of interpreting assignments given to deaf interpreters. A second key finding is that deaf interpreters see themselves as autonomous professionals based on expert knowledge. These issues have implications for the recruitment and retention of deaf interpreters into the sign language interpreting profession in Ireland. We suggest that sign language interpreting agencies and institutions develop and facilitate professional training courses for deaf interpreters as an addition to existing programs of professional training and qualifications being offered to hearing students.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.