JUSTISIGNS – Access to justice for Deaf communities


We have seen repeated coverage of a fake interpreter (Mr Thamsanqa Jantjie) hit the headlines recently at major events such as President Nelson Mandela’s memorial service and more recently the same interpreter being satirically cast for a video sharing app. The world is shocked that such farcical events can be allowed to happen. Who booked the interpreter? What are his qualification? What about security? Was he really talking nonsense?

Well – you may be surprised to learn that every day, Deaf people are subjected to situations in health, justice and education where some authorities who ought to be responsible for the provision of a qualified sign language interpreter fall short on either providing one, do not hire adequately trained professionals, or do not actually think there is a the need for a qualified interpreter. For a Deaf person, the outcome of this is the same as what Deaf people experienced from President Mandela’s memorial service – where their right to proper interpretation has been denied and they are excluded from the conversation.

JUSTISIGNS is European project coordinated by Interesource Group. It represents a ground-breaking initiative focusing on identifying competencies for sign language interpreting in legal settings and providing training for both qualified and qualifying signed language interpreters in this domain. In JUSTISIGNS, legal settings is referred to in a generic context referring to the court room, interactions with solicitors, barristers and lawyers and also interactions of Deaf people with the national police services.

The training materials will be developed for vocational educational training (VET) and continuous professional development (CPD) for

  • Qualified and qualifying signed language interpreters working in legal settings;
  • Deaf communities
  • Legal professionals.

Expert partners involved in JUSTISIGNS are:

  • Centre for Deaf Studies, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  • KU Leuven (Faculty of Arts, Campus Antwerp), Belgium
  • European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters (efsli), Belgium
  • University of Applied Sciences for Special Needs Education, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies, Heriot Watt University, Scotland, UK
  • European Legal Interpreters and Translators Association (EULITA), Belgium.

See project website www.justisigns.com for more information.

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