Race and ethnicity in sign language interpreter education, training and practice

Chijioke Obasi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This article is based on findings from research conducted with black sign language interpreters and interpreting students in the UK. It discusses a number of issues raised by research participants reflecting on their interpreter education, training and practice and uses this to reflect on both the visibility and invisibility of race and ethnicity in the UK sign language interpreting field. Dean and Pollard's application of demand-control theory is used to demonstrate the ways in which some of the environmental, interpersonal and intrapersonal demands faced by black interpreters can add to stress factors they experience as part of their role. This is compounded by the status of race as a 'taboo' subject, which when combined with the more traditional restrictions of the role of sign language interpreter can and does work to restrict the resources available to manage these situations when faced. Questionnaires, telephone interviews and in-depth interviews were carried out as part of a three stage data collection process. The analysis in the article demonstrates the ways in which black interpreters can occupy a shifting position of minority and majority group status, where our position as interpreters can be obscured by the very fact of our blackness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-120
Number of pages18
JournalRace Ethnicity and Education
Issue number1
Early online date5 Nov 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


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