JUSTISIGNS – Access to justice for Deaf communities

Justisigns_logos_BLUE

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.

Deaf people’s access to justice – Conversation Across the Atlantic

Neill McDevitt (DHCC) and Brian Morrison

Neill McDevitt (DHCC) and Brian Morrison

As part of the JUSTISIGNS project, Interesource Group was part of a dissemination event at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, USA hosted by the Department of Linguistics and the Deaf Hearing Community Center (DHCC). The aim of the event was to share good practices and discuss issues pertaining to Deaf people’s access to justice through signed language interpretation.

One of the key areas of concern is the lack of awareness amongst legal professionals whose client is Deaf and who have little understanding about Deaf cultural norms which affect the communication process when there is a sign language interpreter present. The key aspects discussed the triadic relationship that exists between the client (Deaf person) the service provider (i.e the legal professional) and the sign language interpreter. Each party to this three-way exchange has a role to play. Each party must be certain of one another’s function and this is the key to ensuring effective communication between the parties present.

Employers – are you Deaf friendly?

logoInteresource Group is a partner in a European network called DEAF – ICT. The project brings together experts from Italy, Germany Ireland and Poland and is aimed at providing guidance to employers who employ Deaf people. We are currently developing best practice guidelines which focus on aspects of Deaf culture, communication and the awareness of Irish Sign Language (ISL)

Many employers are aware of equality legislation and equal opportunities however in practice most will not know English is a second language of Deaf people who use Irish Sign Language. Many employers will use methods of communication that simply are not effective. While writing notes is fine – the reliance of written communication alone in a working environment can lead to isolation and lack of personal contact. Many employers will not have worked with a sign language interpreter and feel that lip-reading will suffice and that all deaf people can lip-read.

Employment advancement (training, promotion and progression) for deaf people is also a concern as Deaf people have reported that employers often neglect to accommodate the needs of a sign language user either as a result of not possessing sufficient know-how in job redesign (reasonable accommodation) or simply not being “Deaf-aware”. Often, Deaf employees feel left out of decisions and discussions when a sign language interpreter was not present and hearing managers told the Deaf employee that they can “catch-up later” by being provided with the information after the meeting. The majority of hearing employers do not have an opportunity to meet and interact with Deaf people and naturally they are more inclined to think of the Deaf experience from their own point of view.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day – Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh

St.-Patricks-Day

It’s been a difficult few years for Irish citizens and businesses since the austerity measures were put in place 6 years ago. Whether the blame lies with the global economic crisis, the domestic banking scandals or a lack of strategic political direction, there is no doubt that we have all been affected in some way or another.

Ireland is country where people pull together and get on with the job at hand and we are hoping that the green shoots that we see rising is a hopeful sign of better things to come.

No matter what, no matter which country you are from or which country you are in, finding a reason to be proud gives strength and inspiration to move forward and overcome the hurdles that we all encounter. We couldn’t sum it up better than how this video – IRELAND INSPIRES, from Fáilte Ireland, captures the essence of what Ireland is about.

Irrespective of your connection with Ireland – we wish you a healthy, happy and a fun St. Patrick’s Day.

Video source: FailteIrelandTV, YouTube. Developed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland and Fáilte Ireland. To share or download please click here. FáilteIrelandTV

MEDISIGNS – European Language Label Award

MEDISIGNS team receive the ELL award

Anna Bury (DCC Limerick), Haaris Sheikh (Interesource Group), Finola Sisk and Dr John Bosco Conama (Trinity College Dublin)

The MEDISIGNS project team, led by Interesource Group (Ireland) Limited, was one of seven winners and awarded the 2013 European Language Label for innovative ways of teaching and learning languages. The European Language Label, which is simultaneously run in over 20 European countries, has been a major event in the languages’ calendar since 1998. The Award recognises creative and innovative ways to improve the quality of language teaching and learning. This year’s winners were selected on the basis of excellence, innovation, creativity and their ability to serve as a model for others.

The MEDISIGNS team comprised of the Centre for Deaf Studies (Trinity College Dublin); University of Nicosia (Cyprus); The Foundation for the Promotion of Enterprise (Poland); University of Stockholm (Sweden) and Heriot Watt University (Scotland).

To celebrate the European Day of Languages Professor David Crystal addressed the winners. Dr Céline Healy, Chair of the Iris National Jury, commented that the winning projects illustrate the importance of innovative language-learning initiatives during times of economic challenge.  Dr. Healy also noted, “These award-winning projects provide a potential source of inspiration and motivation for others teaching and learning languages”.

In his keynote address, Professor David Crystal highlighted the benefits of multilingualism.  These include enhanced cognitive abilities and social skills at a personal level and numerous political and economic benefits at a societal level.  He added, “We need awards like the European Language Label. But we also need to work towards eradicating myths and inculcating realities. We still need to work towards a ‘House of Languages’ in every country, where language and languages, language teaching and language learning, are proudly celebrated”

To get further information about the project visit www.medisignsproject.eu

‘Disability … Testing … Recruitment’ – Ahead Conference

Group Photo Ahead copy

We recently had the privilege of being part of an expert panel at AHEAD’s ‘Disability … Testing … Recruitment …’ employer event at the Law Society, Dublin.

“Strategies and Resources for Recruitment and Testing of Graduates with a Disability – Are you sure your testing is accessible?”

The focus of this event was on the assessment component of recruitment and the barriers posed by this process for many disabled applicants. Many companies use testing (in all its formats) as a component of the recruitment process and many more are moving towards using it.

We covered some interesting areas such as:

  • How much does the assessment really influence the overall decision to recruit or not to recruit?
  • How much should the assessment influence the overall decision to recruit or not to recruit?

Chaired by Carol Hunt, the expert panel comprised of Dr. Conor McGuckin – Selection by Design & TCD, Leslee Matthews – Enterprise Rent a Car, Haaris Sheikh – Interesource Group (Ireland) Limited & TCD, Louis Watters – WAM graduate and Katie Ridge – Barrister of Law.

Panel Discussion copyAn interactive session will follow an expert panel discussion covering several topics including:

  • How to test applicants with a disability legally
  • Planning for testing applicants with a disability
  • The testing environment/the test centre & testing procedures
  • Ensuring Deaf and Hard of Hearing Applicants are not discriminated against when using testing
  • Visible versus. perceived disabilities — how differences may affect the way you treat applicants
  • The real meaning of “reasonable accommodation” in relation to testing
  • Changes to ensure your testing is discrimination-proof – (Managing Disability/Accommodations)

If you are an employer and wish to know more about employment matters in general or with respect to graduates with disabilities or employing candidates who are deaf and hard of hearing contact us on 01 677 1957 or drop us an email: info@interesourcegroup.com

An Audience with Dr Liisa Kauppinen

An honorary Doctor in Laws (LL.D) was bestowed on Dr Liisa Kauppinen by Trinity College Dublin yesterday (28 June) for her outstanding contribution in the field of Deaf advocacy and human rights. Dr Kauppinen was executive director of the Finnish Association of the Deaf for 30 years, General Secretary and President of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and served as the permanent WFD representative to the United Nations for 20 years.  She still continues to serve as an expert for the General Secretariat of the WFD.

She has been a major inspiration to Deaf communities internationally, and an articulate and intelligent ‘voice’ on the need to explicitly state the human rights of deaf people at national, European and global level, all the while decrying the lack of opportunities for education and training, the under-employment of deaf people, and the lack of recognition of signed languages as ‘real’ languages.  She has supported the development of deaf self-advocacy in Ireland and was a key supporter of the move to establish a Centre for Deaf Studies at Trinity College in 2001/02.

Professor Lorraine Leeson, Centre for Deaf Studies Director, nominated Dr Kauppinen for the award for her outstanding contribution in the field of Deaf advocacy and human rights. Dr Kauppinen was executive director of the Finnish Association of the Deaf for 30 years, General Secretary and President of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and served as the permanent WFD representative to the United Nations for 20 years.  She still continues to serve as an expert for the General Secretariat of the WFD.

On Saturday 29th June, recognising and applauding her global contribution, the Irish Deaf community gathered at the Deaf Heritage Centre at Deaf Village Ireland where Dr Kauppinen shared her memories with friends and peers. Dr John Bosco Conama (Centre for Deaf Studies) presided over the ceremony. To mark the auspicious occasion this short presentation captured some fond memories and some warm words of gratitude from her colleagues.

Interesource Group has been working with the Centre for Deaf Studies for the past few years, and Chief Executive of Interesource Group – Haaris Sheikh, is an adjunct lecturer at CDS. The World Federation of the Deaf have been supporters of many of the projects which Interesource Group have been involved in and the international project teams wholeheartedly congratulate Dr Kauppinen at this wonderful achievement and recognition of her global contribution.

Dr Liisa Kauppinen awarded an honorary doctorate at Trinity College Dublin.

90305806Dr Liisa Kauppinen is awarded an honorary doctorate (Doctor in Laws LL.D) at Trinity College Dublin. She was nominated by Professor Lorraine Leeson, Centre of Deaf Studies Director at the School of Linguistics Speech and Communication Sciences at TCD.

Dr Kauppinen was CEO of the Finnish Association of the Deaf for 30 years, General Secretary and President of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and served as the permanent WFD representative to the United Nations for 20 years.  She still continues to serve as an expert for the General Secretariat of the WFD.  She has been a major inspiration to deaf communities internationally, and an articulate and intelligent ‘voice’ on the need to explicitly state the human rights of deaf people at national, European and global level, all the while decrying the lack of opportunities for education and training, the under-employment of deaf people, and the lack of recognition of signed languages as ‘real’ languages.  She has supported the development of deaf self-advocacy in Ireland and was a key supporter of the move to establish a Centre for Deaf Studies at Trinity College in 2001/02.

The World Federation of the Deaf have been supporters of many of the project which Interesource Group have been involved in and the project teams wholeheartedly congratulate Dr Kauppinen at this wonderful achievement and recognition of her global contribution.

President of Ireland, Michael D  Higgins,  Irish Historian, Margaret Mac Curtain,  The Dubliners’ John Sheahan were also conferred with Honorary Degrees.

Back row from left: Irish Historian Dr Margaret Mac Curtain, Chancellor of the University Mary Robinson, Musician and Composer John Sheahan. Bottom row, from left: former CEO of the Finnish Association of the Deaf Dr Liisa Kauppinen, Squee and Provost Patrick Prendergast.
(Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)

European Language Label 2013 for MEDISIGNS Project

_MG_0141The European Language Label is an award for innovative language-learning projects. It rewards creative ways to improve the quality of language teaching, motivate learners and make the best of available resources.

Winning projects must demonstrate creative thinking and lead to improved teaching provision and learner achievement. They must be innovative, effective and replicable by across Europe.

Interesource Group (Ireland) Limited led an international team of experts in the development of MEDISIGNS which was funded under the Life Long Learning programme in partnership with the Centre for Deaf Studies, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, University of Nicosia, Cyprus, The Foundation for the Promotion of Entrepreneurship, Poland, Stockholm University, Sweden and Heriot-Watt University, Scotland.

MEDISIGNS represents a ground-breaking initiative that focuses on providing language and communication skills to Deaf people, interpreters and those in the medical profession.

Haaris Sheikh, Project Chair and Chief Executive of Interesource Group says that “one of the most important things we want to do is to show how Deaf patients, doctors and nurses, and interpreters can work together to get the best results. Good communication doesn’t depend only on the interpreter: everyone has to co-operate”.

Sometimes it is not possible to get an interpreter in a healthcare setting, often leaving a Deaf person or the healthcare provider in a situation which potentially compromises the level of patient care being delivered. Potentially, this forces a Deaf patient to either wait until an interpreter becomes available, or rely on a family or friend to casually interpret on their behalf. This is not ideal especially in medial situations that are sensitive, confidential or private in nature. From the perspective of a Deaf community and the project consortium, it is important to note that the provision of qualified interpreters, and especially those trained in healthcare aspects, is not viewed as a luxury but as a fundamental human right to the access and provision of appropriate healthcare.

Products addressing this need have been developed before, however they have been largely produced to serve a single geographic market and a single user group. MEDISIGNS has been rolled out in 5 countries and targets 3 distinct user groups in Ireland, Cyprus, Poland, Sweden and the UK.

Products include:

  • Multilingual on-line course on medical interpreting in 5 countries;
  • A European report on Deaf healthcare provision: “A Prescription For Change: Report On EU Healthcare Provision For Deaf Sign Language Users”.
  • Professional Master classes series;
  • iPhone App in English and also an iPhone glossary
  • Workshops for sign language interpreters who work in medical settings;
  • Workshops for health professionals providing them with a better understanding of what they need to know when working with Deaf patients and interpreters;
  • Workshops for Deaf people to inform them on issues that arise in medical encounters and tips on how to get the best from interpreted medical encounters.
  • Documentary: Deaf Healthcare – A Matter of Interpretation

The official award ceremony takes place on October 4th 2013.

Further information and access to products through:  www.medisignsproject.eu

Small business HR support and compliance service

you_re_fired copyWe have just launched our new human resource services for small businesses across all sectors. This service allows us to manage any, or all aspects of your HR needs. After a comprehensive HR audit, we can review you HR documentation from employment contracts, recruitment and selection forms through to your employment handbook and provide recommendations for compliance as well as best practice.

We have been retained by many clients over the years where we offer business and HR advisory support, serve on the board of companies and provide advice on all matters ranging from how to establish an effective recruitment and selection process, deal with staffing problems, manage grievances, handle the investigation and disciplinary process, ensure that records are kept up-to-date and in the unfortunate event of a case being taken against you, we will facilitate in the representing you at a rights commissioner hearing.

Additional services including advising on business strategy, corporate governance, getting the best from your staff and surviving through the recession. Fee structures vary depending on the specific needs of your business.

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