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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 sociolinguistics 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 she is currently completing work on an edited volume with Christopher Stone for the International Association of Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS), to be published by Routeledge in 2017. Lorraine was named a European Commission Language Ambassador in 2008 for her work on Irish Sign Language. In 2013-14, Lorraine served as the "Julian and Virginia Cornell Distinguished Visiting Professor" at Swarthmore College (Pennsylvania, USA). In 2014, she was awarded honorary membership of the Irish Translators and Interpreters Association (ITIA) for her contribution to the field. Lorraine Co-chairs the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters' Expert Group with Jemina Napier and is a member of the AIIC UK/Ireland Network on Sign Language Interpreting. She is also an ARTIS (Advancing Research in Translation & Interpreting Studies) Associate (See:
  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
 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
Stone, Christopher and Lorraine Leeson (eds.), Interpreting and the Politics of Recognition , London, Routeledge, 2017, Book, ACCEPTED
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
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, IN_PRESS
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, 2017, Journal Article, IN_PRESS
Napier, Jemina and Lorraine Leeson, Sign language in Action, 1st, Basingstoke, UK, Palgrave MacMillan, 2016, 1 - 339pp, Book, PUBLISHED
Leeson, Lorraine; Beppie van den Bogaerde, Christian Rathmann and Tobias Haug, Sign Languages and the CEFR for Languages,, European Centre for Modern Languages, 2016, Notes: [This document is also available in International Sign at:], Book, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  URL  URL
Sheikh, Haaris, Robert Skinner and Lorraine Leeson, You Have the Right to Remain Signing. A Guide to Communicating in Interpreter-Mediated Police Settings, Dublin , Interesource Group Publishing, 2016, Book, PUBLISHED  URL
Leeson,Lorraine; Terry Janzen and Barbara Shaffer , Do Interpreters Draw Meaning from a Speaker's Multimodal Text?, 7th Conference of the International Society for Gesture Studies, Paris, France, 18-26 July 2016, 2016, Conference Paper, PRESENTED
Janzen, Terry; Barbara Shaffer and Lorraine Leeson, The Proximity of Grammar to Gesture: Stance-taking in American Sign Language and Irish Sign Language Constructions, 18-22 July 2016, 7th Conference of the International Society for Gesture Studies, Paris, France, 2016, Conference Paper, PRESENTED
Leeson, Lorraine, Lucia Venturi, Teresa Lynch and Haaris Sheikh, Access to Justice for Deaf People in the EU, 5th Community Interpreting Conference, GEMS, University of Limerick, 20 May 2016, 2016, Conference Paper, PRESENTED  TARA - Full Text  URL

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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, IN_PRESS
Lorraine Leeson , Fitness to Practice: Preparing and Maintaining Interpreter Skill Competence, 23 June 2016, 2016, Trinity College Dublin, School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences, Notes: [With Irish Sign Language Interpretation provided by Susan Foley-Cave and Cormac Leonard. See:], Meetings /Conferences Organised, PUBLISHED
Lorraine Leeson and Lucia Venturi, Interpreting Sensitively and Effectively with Victims of Sexual Violence in the Legal Process, 24-25 June 2015, 2015, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Notes: [Justisigns Project event. Facilitators are Leonie O'Dowd and Jane Baird, DRCC. ], Meetings /Conferences Organised, SUBMITTED
Lorraine Leeson, Deaf People of Ireland, Arcadia University Sign Language Society, Arcadia University, Pennsylvania, USA, 7 April 2014, 2014, Erika Stahl and Jenna Neil, Invited Talk, PRESENTED
Lorraine Leeson, Deaf People of Ireland (Daoine Bodhar na h'Eireann), Deaf Hearing Community Centre Lecture Series, Swarthmore College, PA, 6 March 2014, 2014, PJ Mattiacci and Donna Jo Napoli, Invited Talk, ACCEPTED
Lorraine Leeson, Going Against the Current: Educational Policy and Language Rights for the Irish Deaf Community, Public Lecture, Swarthmore College, PA, 3 October, 2013, Provost's Office, Invited Talk, PRESENTED
Lorraine Leeson and Susan Foley-Cave, The Voice[over]: Masterclass Series for ISL/English Interpreters, 7 & 13 May, 4 June, 2013, Trinity College Dublin, Meetings /Conferences Organised, PUBLISHED
Lorraine Leeson, Equality for Deaf People, 16 May 2013, 2013, Trinity Long Room Hub, Notes: [Presentation in International Sign. Voice-over in English. Full presentation available online.], Meetings /Conferences Organised, PUBLISHED
Leeson, Lorraine , Barbara Shaffer and Terry Janzen, Understanding Pronoun Location Choice in Signed Language Discourse: Grammar, Semantics and Pragmatics, Queens University Belfast, 19 November 2012, 2012, Dr. Piotr Blumczynski , Invited Talk, PRESENTED
Lorraine Leeson, Dr. Hanneke Bot Masterclass - "Interpreting in Mental Health Settings", 13 April 2012, 2012, Trinity College Dublin, Meetings /Conferences Organised, PUBLISHED


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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
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.