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Professor Lorraine Leeson

Director of the Centre - Deaf Studies (C.L.C.S.)


Director of the Centre - Deaf Studies (Centre for Deaf Studies)

Lorraine Leeson is Professor of Deaf Studies at the Centre for Deaf Studies. Her research work is multidisciplinary in nature, influenced by her background in Deaf Studies, Gender Studies and Linguistics. She has published widely on aspects of the linguistics and applied linguistics of signed languages with a specific interest in Irish Sign Language and in the area of sign language interpreting. Her doctoral work was the first to examine aspects of the morphosyntax of Irish Sign Language, and subsequent to this, she has published and lectured widely on aspects of the grammar of Irish Sign Language and in the area of signed language/spoken language interpreting. Lorraine was a member of the first cohort of professionally trained Irish Sign Language/English interpreters in Ireland, and she continues to interpret occasionally. She has engaged in pan-European research work with academic institutions, Deaf communities and interpreting organisations for over two decades. Current projects include: Promoting Excellence in Sign Language Instruction (funded by the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) 2015-18. See:, and the DESIGNS project, which focuses on Deaf peoples' access to employment (Erasmus+). See: Recent projects include the European Commission funded Justisigns Project (access to justice across several EU member states) (completed 2016) and PRO-Signs (funded by the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML)) which looks the teaching, learning and assessment of signed languages for professional purposes with collaboration from over 30 countries across Europe. See: (Completed 2015). Lorraine co-authored the volume "Sign Language in Action" with Jemina Napier (2016) and recently completed work on an edited volume with Christopher Stone for the International Association of Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS), to be published by Routledge in 2018.
  Bilingual/Bicultural Education   cognitive linguistics   Deaf Studies   Discourse markers   Educational Evaluation/Assessment   E-Learning   Interpreting   interpreting studies   Irish Sign Language   Language acquisition   Language Policy   modality and language   Morpho-syntax of signed languages   Signed Languages
 DESIGNS: Deaf Employment for Sign Language Users in the EU (2016-1-IE-01-KA202-016895)
 Enterprise Ireland: Horizon 2020 Coordination Support for Academics - €11,492
 PRO-Sign II: Promoting Excellence in Sign Language Instruction c €130,000
 A review of literature and international practice on national and voluntary registers for sign language interpreters - €6,396
 Justisigns - €90,230 (538899-LLP-1-2013-1-IE-LEONARDO-LMP)

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Details Date
Member of the Trinity Asian Centre for Asian Studies Board 2015-present
Member of the Advisory Board, DCAL - Deafness, Cognition and Langauge Research Centre, University College London 2006 - present
Member of the Irish Sign Link ISL/English Acccreditation Review Panel 2004-2006
Member of the Editorial Board, Deaf Worlds: International Journal of Deaf Studies 2001- present
Editor of "The Sign Language Translator and Interpreter", St. Jerome Publishing. 2007-2011
Member of the Partnership Group on Deaf Education (CIDP-IDS-DeafHear-Schools for the Deaf-CDS) 2007-2013
Director - Dublin City Radio (DCR) 2008- 2010
Board Member - Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS) 2011 - 2013
Chair of the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters Expert Group 2012-present
Member of the AIIC Network (UK/Ire) Committee on Sign Language Interpreting 2012-present
Advisor - Deaf Studies Trust, Bristol 2013 - present
Member of the Royal Irish Academy Modern Languages Committee 2010-2013
Member of the Peer Review Board for the Journal of Access Service in Postsecondary Education (JASPE) 2014 - present
ARTIS Associate (Advancing Research in Translation and interpreting Studies). 2014-present
Secretary - Centre for Deaf Studies Management Committee 2001-present
Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
American Sign Language Medium Medium Medium
British Sign Language Medium Medium Medium
English Fluent Fluent Fluent
French Medium Basic Basic
Irish Basic Basic Basic
Irish Sign Language Fluent Fluent Fluent
Details Date From Date To
Irish Association of Applied Linguistics (IRAAL) 1994 present
International Cognitive Linguistics Association
Irish Association of Sign Language Interpreters (IASLI) (disbanded in 2008) 1993 2008
Irish Translators and Interpreters Association (ITIA)
Conference of Interpreter Trainers (CIT) 2008 present
International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS) 2010 present
European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters 2010 Present
Council of Irish Sign Language Interpreters (CISLI) 2011 Present
International Pragmatics Association 2017 Present
Stone, Christopher and Lorraine Leeson (eds.), Interpreting and the Politics of Recognition , London, Routeledge, 2018, 1-166pp, Book, PUBLISHED
"A President for all of the Irish" Performing Irishness in an Interpreted Inaugural Presidential Speech in, editor(s)Lorraine Leeson and Christopher Stone , Interpreting and the Politics of Recognition , London and New York, Routledge, 2018, [Lorraine Leeson, Miranda Stewart, Casey Ferrara, Ivy Drexel, Peter Nilsson and Marlon Cooper], Notes: [Covering key topics from colonialism to representation, ethics and power, Interpreting and the Politics of Recognition looks at the different linguistic modalities used within communities to investigate avenues for parity of all citizens, regardless of which modality (signed or spoken) they use. The contributors use a wide spread of examples from a variety of disparate cultures - including the deaf and ethnic minority groups. With nine chapters presented in three thematic sections and a foreword by Michael Cronin, this volume will be of interest to practicing interpreters, researchers and advanced students in the areas of Interpreting Studies, Translation Studies and Linguistics.], Book Chapter, PUBLISHED
Research with Deaf Sign Language Users: Action Research in Bilingual-Bimodal Legal Contexts in, Jim McKinley and Heath Rose , Doing Research in Applied Linguistics: Realities, Dilemmas and Solutions, London, Routledge, 2017, pp134 - 146, [Lorraine Leeson, Jemina Napier,, Robert Skinner, Teresa Lynch, Lucia Venturi and Haaris Sheikh], Book Chapter, PUBLISHED  URL
Tobias Haug, Lorraine Leeson and Christine Monikowski, Linguistics Courses in Sign Language Interpreter Education Programs: A Survey of Selected Educators, Symposium on Signed Language Interpretation and Translation research, Gallaudet University, Washington DC, 31/3/2017-2/4/2017, 2017, Notes: [This study is investigating the extent to which sign language Interpreter Education Programs (IEPs) in Europe include the discipline of linguistics in their interpreter education program courses. While current literature strongly recommends a linguistic component for the education of sign language interpreters, no one has really investigated whether these suggestions are being followed, to what degree, nor how they are evaluated and reviewed. Given that many sign languages across Europe are under-described, we want to document how educators overcome the hurdle of limited existing descriptions of many facets of their sign language's structure. We want to document what texts they draw on (national/international) and how they build a curriculum given these constraints. At the same time, several countries have developed large multimodal digital corpora and we want to explore if/how these are leveraged within programs. We would also like to document the pedagogic review cycle, concerning planning, review and modification of linguistic teaching components, from the perspective of educators. We began with an online survey (Wright 2005), targeted at interpreter educators whose programs are organizational members of the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters. This presentation will offer an early analysis of the collected information.], Conference Paper, PRESENTED
Haug, Tobias; Karen Bontempo, Lorraine Leeson, Jemina Napier, Brenda Nicodemus, Beppie Van den Bogaerde and Myriam Vermeerbergen, Deaf leaders' strategies for working with sign language interpreters: An examination across seven countries, Across Language and Cultures: A Multidisciplinary Journal for Translation and Interpreting Studies, 17, (1 (2)), 2017, Notes: [See:], Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Nicodemus, Brenda; Swabey, Laurie; Taylor, Marty; Leeson, Lorraine; Napier, Jemina and Petitta, Giulia, A cross-linguistic analysis of fingerspelling production by signed language interpreters , Sign Language Studies, 17, (2), 2017, p143-171 , Notes: [ ], Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Lorraine Leeson, Barbara Shaffer and Terry Janzen, "Let me describe sleep in space". Leveraging Visual Conceptualization for Interpreting Practice , International Symposium on Signed Language Interpretation and Translation Research, Gallaudet University, Washington DC, 31/3/2017-2/4/2017, 2017, Notes: [Gile (1995) suggests interpreters manage limited cognitive resources efficiently, giving attention to several 'efforts', including the Listening and Analysis effort. During this phase, interpreters use the incoming source form to identify speaker/signer goals. Little is known about how interpreters conceptualize data that they describe in their target language or how they determine source speaker/signer intention. Pointurier-Pournin (2014) suggests visual conceptualization requirements are higher for signed language interpreters (SLIs) than for spoken language interpreters as the visual-gestural mode is said to contribute to an increased cognitive demand for SLIs. We contend that this hypothesis overlooks findings in the field of cognitive linguistics (e.g., Croft and Cruse (2004), Nuyts and Pederson (1997), Geeraerts (2006)). We demonstrate that modality does not make a difference re: visual conceptualisation of content, but that an embodied visual conceptualization component is a universal cognitive capacity inherent to human experience. With 16 interpreters from around the world, we test the hypothesis that interpreters leverage speaker co-speech gestures re descriptions of physical environment/ physical characteristics of persons and objects with whom they engage, co-opting these into their target texts. All interpretations were recorded; all interpreters engaged in a Think Aloud Protocol (TAP) describing how they visualized scenes in the source and how it informed their target texts. We conclude that the visual nature of signed languages neither lends advantage to SLIs in terms of their ability to reconstruct and use an active visualization of a scene/activity, nor does their conceptual processing exceed that for spoken language interpreters. ], Oral Presentation, PRESENTED
Lorraine Leeson, Barbara Shaffer and Terry Janzen, Blended Space and Co-construction of Meaning in Simultaneous Signed Language Interpreting, International Pragmatics Association , Belfast, Northern Ireland, 17-21 July 2017, 2017, Oral Presentation, PRESENTED
Terry Janzen, Barbara Shaffer and Lorraine Leeson, Does grammar include gesture? Evidence from two signed languages, International Cognitive Linguistics Conference 14, University of Tartu, Estonia, 10-14 July 2017, 2017, Oral Presentation, PRESENTED
Barbara Shaffer, Lorraine Leeson and Terry Janzen, What I know is here; what I don't know is somewhere else: Deixis and gesture spaces in American Sign Language and Irish Sign Language, International Cognitive Linguistics Association Conference 14, University of Tartu, Estonia, 10-14 July 2017, 2017, Oral Presentation, PRESENTED

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Deaf Teachers of the Deaf in, editor(s)Wheatley, Mark and Katja Reuter , Article 24 - UNCRPD, Brussels, European Union of the Deaf, 2017, [Lolo Danielson and Lorraine Leeson], Book Chapter, SUBMITTED
John Bosco Conama, Haaris Sheikh, Lorraine Leeson, The DESIGNS Project: Deaf Employment in Europe, 8th Community Interpreting Conference, TCD ARTS BUILDING , 8 June 2017, 2017, Conference Paper, PRESENTED
Lorraine Leeson, Christian Rathmann and Haaris Sheikh, efsli Summer School 2017: Interpreting in Employment Settings , efsli Summer School 2017: Interpreting in Employment Settings , Belgrade, Serbia, 26-28 May 2017, 2017, European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters, Notes: [See:], Invited Talk, PRESENTED
Haaris Sheikh and Lorraine Leeson, Access to Justice for Deaf People, Access to Justice for Deaf People, Belgrade, Serbia, 26 May 2017, 2017, European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters/ Irish Hon. Consul to Serbia, Invited Talk, PUBLISHED
Leeson, Lorraine , Sign Language Studies and Interpreting Studies., University of Belgrade, Serbia, 26 May 2017, 2017, Dean, Faculty of Arts, Invited Talk, PRESENTED
Lorraine Leeson, Sign Language and Sign Language Interpreting Pedagogy: Where we are and where we want to go, PLENARY: Toward a Virtual Centre for Applied Sign Linguistics (V-CASL), Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, 27 March 2017, 2017, Oral Presentation, PRESENTED
Lorraine Leeson and Lucia Venturi, A Review of Literature and International Practice on National and Voluntary Registers for Sign Language Interpreters, Dublin , Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS), February, 2017, Notes: [Relates to the regulation of the sign language interpreting profession internationally and makes recommendations based on same. References the Irish Sign Language Recognition Bill 2016 as well as a number of pan-European and international instruments that provide for equality of access and recognition of sign languages, including reference to sign language interpreter education and provision. ], Report, PUBLISHED
Terry Janzen, Barbara Schaffer and Lorraine Leeson, "You Can Cover the Earth With Your Thumb": Language, Point of View, and Gesture in Simultaneous Interpretation, Department of Linguistics, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada , October 14, 2016., 2016, Conference Paper, PRESENTED
Leeson, Lorraine, KEYNOTE: "Às vezes é muito difícil" Sobre o esforço de se envolver em eventos interpretados ("Sometimes it is just too hard" On the effort of engaging in interpreted events), 5th Congresso Nacional de Pesquisas em Tradução & Interprẽtaçǎo de Libras e Língua Portuguesa, UFSC, Florianopolis, Brazil, 27/11-2/12 2016, 2016, Notes: [Presented in International Sign.], Conference Paper, PRESENTED
Leeson, Lorraine, Sign Language in Action: Remembering, Revitalizing and Documenting the Ephemeral, Memory, Trinity Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin, 12 April 2016, 2016, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Invited Talk, PRESENTED


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Award Date
NRB Scholarship 1996
British Academy Fellowship 2004
European Commission Language Ambassador of the Year Award 2009
Fellowship, TCD 2009
European Language Label Award for Medisigns Project (LLP/LdV/TOI/2010/IRL-511) 2013
Conferred with Honorary Membership of the Irish Translators' and Interpreters' Association 2014
Patron - Irish Deaf Women's Group October 2015
Nominated for Provost's Global Award 2014-15
Kerry Deaf Resource Centre Supporter of the Year Award 2016
Honorary Professor, School of Social Sciences, Heriot Watt University 2017-2020
Lorraine is interested in research on (1) linguistics & applied linguistics of sign languages, (2) interpreting studies, and (3) trans-disciplinary work that impacts on deaf studies topics. Her focus on the linguistics and sociolinguistics of signed languages includes work on the morpho-syntax and semantics of Irish Sign Language (ISL) (including issues of word order), language planning issues vis-a-vis Deaf education and the use of Irish Sign Language, gendered issues in the Irish Deaf community, particularly in terms of language use. Cognitive linguistics interests include the role of gesture in language, the role of metaphor and metonymy in ISL, the impact of iconicity on language structures, simultaneity in signed languages, point of view predication and stance marking. Her applied linguistics work includes the development of a corpus of sign language learners, from which a number of studies are planned. She coordinated the European Centre for Modern Language (ECML)'s PRO-Signs project, which looked at the teaching, learning and assessment of sign languages for professional purposes and is a member of the Expert Group on a current ECML project focused on promoting excellence in sign language teaching. Her interpreting studies research includes a focus on provision of interpreters in a range of domains, quality of outputs and assessment issues. Current research includes an international projects that look at the experiences of deaf leaders in working with interpreters and work as the Irish PI on Justisigns, a project that looks at access to justice for deaf people, with a particular focus on interpreting in police settings. In terms of Deaf Education, she has published on stakeholder perspectives on Deaf education in Ireland , and is also interested in the use of new technologies in traditional, blended learning and online environments in delivering accessible education at tertiary level. Lorraine has also served as a reviewer for funding applications for governmental institutions in Ireland, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Qatar, the USA and at European Union level and reviewed submissions for publication for a broad range of international publishing houses. See: