This study aims to provide insights into the impact of COVID-19 on the Irish Sign Language Interpreting profession in regards workplace wellbeing and occupational health. A two-staged mixed method data collection took place in the form of an anonymous online survey followed by focus groups. This captured work practices throughout the pandemic, the impact it had on Ssign Language Interpreters (SLIs), as well as mechanisms employed regarding wellness and self-care. The results reveal many issues impacting SLIs in Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic, including drastic decreases in workload, and a forced transition into an online environment. The sudden shift to remote interpreting had many drawbacks, most evidently the initial unpreparedness, i.e. lack of experience to engage in this form of work. Additional difficulties have been noted such as the challenges of providing a complex service on a virtual platform, the lack of opportunity to develop an on-site interpreter-client relationship, and issues surrounding team interpreting in remote contexts. Negative impacts on both physical and psychological health are identified as a result. Conversely, positive opportunities are highlighted, particularly amongst non-Dublin (capital city) based SLIs who found opportunity within remote interpreting to engage in a higher volume of work and to interpret for a new client base. This was accompanied by other positive implications such as an increased flexibility and work/life balance related to hybrid working arrangements. To progress with the ongoing changes seen across the profession, the study concludes with a discussion regarding the future of SL interpreting in Ireland. Concerns have been raised around the lack of SLI autonomy in online spaces and questions have been raised on whether all members of the Deaf community can truly be active citizens in remote spaces. This has identified the need for further research and support in the profession in order to safeguard SLIs and deaf people, and to ensure SLI retention issues are not exacerbated as we move forward.
Sheridan, Sarah and O'Donnell, Joanne
"Irish Sign Language Interpreter Workplace Wellness during COVID-19: Looking back and moving forward,"
Journal of Interpretation: Vol. 31:
1, Article 1.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unf.edu/joi/vol31/iss1/1