Skip Trinity Banner Navigation

Skip to main content »

Trinity College Dublin

Personal Information
College Photo Name Leeson, Lorraine
Main Department C.L.C.S.
College Title Director of the Centre - Deaf Studies
College Tel +353 1 896 4371
Web http://
Lorraine Leeson is the Director of the Centre for Deaf Studies. 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 is editor of the Centre for Deaf Studies monograph series, and was editor of the journal, 'The Sign Language Translator and Interpreter' from 2007-2009. Recent publications include a co-edited volume on interpreting (with Dr. Svenja Wurm and Dr. Myriam Vermeerbergen) (2011), a cognitive linguistic driven account of Irish Sign Language with Prof. John Saeed (2012), published by Edinburgh University Press, and an edited volume on interpreting, education and mental health (co-edited with Dr. Myriam Vermeerbergen) (2012). She is currently working on a volume on applied sign linguistics with Jemina Napier (due 2014). Lorraine was named a European Commission Language Ambassador in 2008 for her work on Irish Sign Language. She chairs the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters' Expert Group and is a member of the AIIC UK/Ireland Network on Sign Language Interpreting. She is the "Julian and Virginia Cornell Distinguished Visiting Professor" at Swarthmore College (Philadelphia, USA) for the 2013-2014 academic year.
Details Date
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-present
More Representations>>>
Membership of Professional Institutions, Associations, Societies
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
More Memberships>>>
Awards and Honours
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
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 Sign Language Fluent Fluent Fluent
Description of Research Interests
I am interested in research on (1) linguistics & sociolinguistics of signed languages, (2) interpreting research, and (3) deaf education. My work on the linguistics and sociolinguistics of signed languages includes work on the morpho-syntax and semantics of Irish Sign Language (ISL), 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 metaphor and metonymy in ISL, the impact of iconicity on the language, simultaneity in signed languages and point of view predication. My work on interpreting research includes a focus on provision of interpreters in a range of domains, quality of outputs and assessment issues. In terms of Deaf Education, I have published on stakeholder perspectives on Deaf education in Ireland , and I am also interested in the use of new technologies in traditional, blended learning and online environments in delivering accessible education at tertiary level. I have also served as a reviewer for funding applications for governmental institutions in Ireland, the UK, Qatar, USA and at European Union level.
Research Interests
Bilingual/Bicultural Education Deaf Education Deaf Studies Deafness
Discourse markers E-Learning Educational Evaluation/Assessment Information technology in education
Interpreting Irish Sign Language Language Policy Language acquisition
Morpho-syntax of signed languages Semantics Signed Languages Sociology of Language
Special Education cognitive linguistics interpreting studies modality and language
Research Projects
Project title Signs of Ireland - €23,960
Summary This project aimed to collate, for the first time, an electronic corpus of Irish Sign Language. The corpus currently contains data from 40 signers from across the Republic of Ireland. The data is being transcribed using ELAN (a programme developed by the Max Planx Institute, Nijmegan) and data has served as the starting point in analysing aspects of the grammar of Irish Sign Language as well as serving as data for cross linguistic analysis by linguists in Ireland and abroad. Data collected includes both elicited and non-elicited data, of which the elicited data is in line with that collected for other signed languages. This corpus represents one of the largest digital corpora of a European signed language and is the most detailed (in terms of annotation) worldwide. Sixteen peer-reviewed papers and presentations have resulted from the SOI corpus related work to date, and currently 3 PhD students and 1 M.Phil student are working on SOI corpus-related projects. A volume describing ISL, based heavily on corpus data, is due shortly (Leeson and Saeed). The corpus is also used in teaching in CDS and CLCS. Funding came from the following sources: Faculty of Arts and Social Science Benefaction Funds (2006-7) €1, 750; University of Dublin Emergency Research Funds (2003-4) c €7,728.00; Faculty of Arts and Social Science Benefaction Fund (2003-7) €2,000; Start Up Research Funds (2001) €12,482.00.
Funding Agency TCD sources
Type of Project Corpus Linguistics
Date from 2004
Date to 2007
Person Months 22

Project title Royal Irish Academy Exchange Fellowship - €1,130
Summary Funds facilitated a research-based visit to Bristol University to prepare a book proposal with Prof. Jim Kyle on sign language interpreting.
Funding Agency
Type of Project
Date from 2004
Date to 2004
Person Months

Project title SIGNALL II (LLP/LdV/TOI/2007/IRL-516) - €48,075
Summary CDS is work with Interesource (Ire.) to develop a digital multi-media course on Deaf Culture and Deaf history for employers across the European Union. The project Promoter is Interesource Group (Ireland) Ltd. Project partners are from Finland, Czech Republic, Poland and the UK.
Funding Agency European Commission
Programme Leonardo da Vinci
Type of Project Digital learning, course development
Date from November 2007
Date to October 2009
Person Months

More Research Projects>>>
Publications and Other Research Outputs
Peer Reviewed
Lorraine Leeson and John I. Saeed, Irish Sign Language, Edinburgh, Scotland, Edinburgh University Press, 2012, 244pp
Lorraine Leeson, Ad-hoc, Risky, Unregulated: Interpreting in Medical Settings in Ireland, IATIS 2012, Belfast, July 2012, 2012
Lorraine Leeson, The Irish Deaf Community and Signed Language Interpreting, Dublin City University, 6 & 9 March, 2012, Dr. Dorothy Kenny
Lorraine Leeson, The Practise Profession Approach to Healthcare Interpreting, 24-25 February 2012, In:The Practise Profession Approach to Healthcare Interpreting, 2012, Presented by Robyn Dean. Centre for Deaf Studies, Trinity College Dublin
Notes: [This workshop examines the practise of interpreting in a different frame and as a result, challenges some long-held ideas about ethics and decision-making. This newer frame also appreciates several practise realities that must be overtly addressed. First is that interpreters are active and influential participants in the communication event, that the constructs of language and culture which we learn to use to analyse interpreting work are insufficient for appreciating the myriad demands of community work, and last, that a discussion of the interpreter’s role is incomplete without a discussion of the interpreter’s responsibility. It is through this new lens that we consider some of the unique demands of healthcare interpreting and discuss not best practises but a best practise process, a different vehicle for formulating and critiquing work decisions. Participants will leave this workshop with new insights about their work, ethical decisions, and expectations for professional development. Robyn K. Dean, CI/CT, MA was appointed to the faculty of the University of Rochester School of Medicine in 1999, in recognition of her scholarship in the interpreting field and leadership in the education of interpreters, medical students, and other health care professionals. She has been an interpreter for over 20 years, with particular service experience in medical and mental health settings. Ms. Dean holds a BA in American Sign Language Interpreting and an MA in Theology. Ms. Dean's demand control schema has been the topic of numerous presentations, publications, and grant projects nationally and internationally. Her contribution to interpreter education was recognized in 2008 with the Mary Stotler Award, an award conferred every two years, conjointly, by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and the Conference of Interpreter Trainers. Ms. Dean is currently a PhD Candidate at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.]
Non Peer Reviewed
Lorraine Leeson, Dr. Hanneke Bot Masterclass - "Interpreting in Mental Health Settings", 13 April 2012, 2012, Trinity College Dublin
More Publications and Other Research Outputs >>>

Log in to the TCD Portal
Last Updated:24-APR-2014