Sign language interpreting services
A quick fix for inclusion?
Sign language version of the abstract
This article rethinks the impact of sign language interpreting services (SLIS) as a social institution. It starts
from the observation that “access” for deaf people is tantamount to availability of sign language interpreters, and the often
uncritically proposed and largely accepted solution at the institutional level to lack of access seems to be increasing the number
of interpreters. Using documented examples from education and health care settings, we raise concerns that arise when SLIS become
a prerequisite for public service provision. In doing so, we problematize SLIS as replacing or concealing the need for
language-concordant education and public services. We argue that like any social institution, SLIS should be studied and analyzed
critically. This includes more scrutiny about how different kinds of “accesses” can be implemented without SLIS, and more
awareness of the contextual languaging choices deaf people make beyond the use of interpreters.
Keywords: sign language interpreting, public services, deaf, access, inclusion
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