INTP 460 Issues in Interpreting: Studies


There are different types of studies. We have qualitative (interviews, collecting stories), quantitative (statistics), and mixed studies using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Below are examples of these studies. 

An empirical study is based on "observationinvestigation, or experiment rather than on abstract reasoning, theoretical analysis, or speculation."* Empirical studies should be divided into the following parts: abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, and references. Typically these studies also include tables, figures, and charts to display collected data. (Information from Psychology InfoGuide).

Below is an example of an empirical study:

Palmer, C.G.S, Boudreault, P., Berman, B.A., Wolfson, A., Duarte, L., Venne, V.L. & Sinsheimer, J.S. (2017). Bilingual approach to online cancer genetics education for Deaf American Sign Language users produces greater knowledge and confidence than English text only: A randomized study.  Disability and Health Journal10(1), 23-32.

Qualitative Studies

Using American Sign Language interpreters to facilitate research among deaf adults: Lessons learned

Background: Health care providers commonly discuss depressive symptoms with clients, enabling earlier intervention. Such discussions rarely occur between providers and Deaf clients. Most culturally Deaf adults experience early-onset hearing loss, self-identify as part of a unique culture, and communicate in the visual language of American Sign Language (ASL). Communication barriers abound, and depression screening instruments may be unreliable. Purpose: To train and use ASL interpreters for a qualitative study describing depressive symptoms among Deaf adults. Method: Training included research versus community interpreting. During data collection, interpreters translated to and from voiced English and ASL. Results: Training eliminated potential problems during data collection. Unexpected issues included participants asking for "my interpreter" and worrying about confidentiality or friendship in a small community. Conclusions: Lessons learned included the value of careful training of interpreters prior to initiating data collection, including resolution of possible role conflicts and ensuring conceptual equivalence in real-time interpreting. 

Quantitative Studies

Comparison of novice signers and novice ASL-English interpreters

Currently, there is little research on the ability of interpreting students to translate texts from English into American Sign Language (ASL), nor is there much research on how their skills change as they progress from being a signer of ASL to an interpreter. At the same time, a gap has been identified between the requirements of the workplace and the abilities of many sign language interpreters (God-frey 2011; Resnick 1990; Sadler 2009; Schick, Williams, and Kuper-mintz 2005). For example, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) reported only a 25 percent pass rate for the national interpreter performance exam in 2017. To begin to address this gap, we did a pilot study to look at the rehearsed sight interpretation abilities of students of interpretation as compared to students of ASL. The theoretical framework for this study drew on McDermid’s (2012) pragmatic model of interpretation, where interpreters can work at the literal, enriched, or implicature level. Ten students translated an English text into ASL. Students who had taken some coursework in interpretation evidenced more text restructuring ( p* < 0.01), in-cluded more potential implicatures ( p* < 0.05), and enriched their target ASL texts ( p* < 0.05) more so than the ASL students who had not studied interpretation. It is hoped these findings may help frame further studies concerning benchmarks for students of interpretation and ASL to perhaps address the gap that exists between interpreters’ abilities and the expectations of the field.

Mixed Studies

Persistent Emotional Extremes and Video Relay Service Interpreters

This mixed methods study explored how call content emotionally affects video interpreters (VIs) who work in Video Relay Service (VRS) and how this influences perceptions of job satisfaction and general well-being. The participants included 889 self-reported VIs who completed a survey containing open and closed-ended questions regarding their work. Whereas VRS call content can be extremely emotional for the non-deaf and deaf callers, whether positive or negative, the study seeks to identify a spectrum of coping strategies to perceived stressors brought about by these emotionally charged incidents. The study examined the frequency of these types of calls processed by the VI as well as information regarding coping methods the VIs utilized pre, during and post VRS call utilizing a constant comparison technique. The researchers found that interpreters who work in this setting experience emotional extremes that may influence longevity in the field. VIs are resourceful in their coping strategies which include debriefing, breaks, exercise and positive self-talk and reflection. Efficacy of coping strategies requires further study in a VRS setting. Suggestions for future studies focusing on VRS are recommended.

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