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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 in 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:, - 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), which examined deaf peoples' access to police services, and which was awarded a European Language Label Award in 2017. Lorraine also led the PRO-Signs (funded by the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML)) which looked at the teaching, learning and assessment of signed languages for professional purposes with collaboration from over 30 countries across Europe. See: (Completed 2015). Recent publications include "Sign Language in Action" with Jemina Napier (2016) and "Interpreting and the Politics of Recognition", co-edited with Christopher Stone (2018). Lorraine is currently serving as Associate Dean of Research (2018-)
  Bilingual/Bicultural Education   cognitive linguistics   Deaf Studies   E-Learning   interpreting studies   Irish Sign Language   Language acquisition   Language Policy   modality and language   Morpho-syntax of signed languages   Signed Languages
 Enterprise Ireland Funding to Support Horizon 2020 Coordinator Application
 SIGNALL 3 (LLP/LdV/TOI/2009/IRL-525) - €55,670
 SIF II Deaf Studies in Ireland Programme - €1.2m (initial grant - later reduced due to economic crisis)
 D-Signs (UK/08/LLP-LdV/TOI/163_141) - €66, 592
 DeafVoc 2 (2008-1-FI1-LEO05-00454)

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Details Date
Member of the Trinity Asian Centre for Asian Studies Board 2015-2018
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 2001-2018
Member of the Irish Deaf Research Network (IDRN) 2008- present
Member of the Royal Irish Academy Multidisciplinary Committee on Languages, Literature, Culture and Communication 2018-
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
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, pp37-64 , [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
Lorraine Leeson, Barbara Shaffer and Terry Janzen, Does signed language grammar include gesture?, International Society for Gesture Studies (ISGS) 8, Cape Town, South Africa, 4-8 July 2018, 2018, 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, ISGS 8, Cape Town, South Africa, 4-8 July 2018, 2018, Oral Presentation, PRESENTED
Lorraine Leeson, Haaris Sheikh, Myriam Vermeerbergen, Jemina Napier, Robert Skinner, Teresa Lynch, Tobias Haug, Heidi Salaets, Graham H. Turner, Future proofing access to justice for deaf sign language users in the European Union: Language and Policy Issues, International Congress of Linguists 20, Cape Town, South Africa, 2-6 July 2018, 2018, Oral Presentation, ACCEPTED
Jemina Napier, Haaris Sheikh, Audrey Cameron, Lorraine Leeson, John Bosco Conama, Christian Rathmann, and Christian Peters, DESIGNS: Perspectives on Deaf people's access to employment through interpreters, European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia, September 2018, 2018, Oral Presentation, ACCEPTED  URL
Lorraine Leeson, Review of Elizabeth S. Matthews (2017) Language, Power and Resistance: Mainstreaming Deaf Education. Washington DC: Gallaudet University Press. , Teanga, 2018, Review Article, IN_PRESS
Haaris Sheikh, John Bosco Conama and Lorraine Leeson, 'A Guide to Kilkenny Castle', Dublin: IGI Media, Office of Public Works (OPW), 2018, -, Translation, PUBLISHED  URL
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

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Lorraine Leeson and Carmel Grehan, The Common European Framework of Reference and Signed Language Curricula, ISL Academy Workshop, Deaf Village Ireland, Dublin, 27 January 2018, 2018, Irish Sign Language Academy, Invited Talk, PRESENTED
Lorraine Leeson, Haaris Sheikh and Council for Irish Sign Language Interpreters, Interpreting in Workplace Settings, 22 April 2018, In:Interpreting in Workplace Settings, 2018, Centre for Deaf Studies, Trinity College Dublin, Meetings /Conferences Organised, PRESENTED
Carmel Grehan and Lorraine Leeson, European Language Portfolio for Sign Languages (ELP-SL), ISL Academy Workshop, Deaf Village Ireland , 16 June 2018, 2018, Oral Presentation, PRESENTED
Lorraine Leeson and Carmel Grehan, European Language Portfolio for Sign Languages (ELP-SL), Pro-Sign II Network Meeting , European Centre for Modern Languages, Graz, 5-6 April 2018, 2018, Oral Presentation, PRESENTED
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
Leeson, Lorraine, KEYNOTE: Working with Interpreters - Is it worth the effort? , Signs of Professionalism Conference, Auckland University of Technology (AUT), November 2017, 2017, Dr. George Major, Lynette Pivac, Invited Talk, PRESENTED


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Award Date
NRB Scholarship 1996
Honorary Professor, School of Social Sciences, Heriot Watt University 2017-2020
European Language Label Award for Justisigns Project 2017
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 Outstanding Contribution 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), 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. Lorraine led the establishment of the "Signs of Ireland" corpus of Irish Sign Language, which has facilitated significant work on the description of aspects of ISL structure. 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 examination of interpreter provision in emergency settings, interpreting in employment settings (DESIGNS project), and interpreting in legal settings (Justisigns project). 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: