Rationale

The rationale of the EUMASLI project is that professional development of sign language interpreting in the participating countries has reached a stage where qualified input into the areas of research, development, and management is needed in order to develop the field beyond its present level of providing services to Deaf and hearing citizens. In recent years, important steps have been reached in Germany, Finland and the United Kingdom towards the recognition of sign language interpreting as an essential tool for enabling hearing and Deaf people to interact on an equal footing. However, project partners agree that it is necessary to go beyond first-level academic training programmes in order to provide skills and competencies that will enable the field of sign language interpreting to grow into a coherent self-organized professional body that can serve the interests of Deaf people more efficiently than it does today.

The EUMASLI project is set within the so-called ‘Bologna Process’ that aims at the creation of a European higher education area by making academic degree standards and quality assurance standards more comparable and compatible throughout Europe. The project reflects a stage in the development of professional sign language interpreting services in Europe, where, as yet, most countries are concerned with establishing adequate first-level training programmes, while a small number of countries can draw upon relevant experience to move towards second level academic education. The project draws upon the strength of a long-standing European partnership in an effort to establish the first master-level study programme of its kind in Europe, thereby hoping to promote a more general introduction of professional sign language interpreting training opportunities Europe and encourage developments that can be expected to spread more widely throughout Europe over the coming years.

By concentrating on research, development and management functions, the EUMASLI programme will provide background and substance for jobs already done by sign language interpreters ‘out there,’ i.e. in research and training, in administrative functions within various institutional contexts, in policy development, international settings such as conferences as well as mentoring and supervision. Without excluding the possibility and usefulness of more narrowly defined training opportunities, at this stage, project partners have opted for a rather broadly based development of competences and qualifications, trying to open up various routes into ‘higher level’ functions within the professional field of sign language interpreting to the programme’s participants. More particularly, participants of the programme will have

Starting points

Module structure

There are three major areas of study:

Study area 1: International skills
This part of the programme affords opportunities for applying and strengthening linguistic and translation skills. After an encounter with the three national sign languages involved, i.e., Finnish Sign Language (FSL), British Sign Language (BSL) and German Sign Language (Deutsche Gebärdensprache, DGS) in module 1.1, International Sign (IS) is afforded a special place in the programme (modules 2.1–4.1). Possible uses of IS in transnational communication, including transnational interpreting assignments, are reflected, and it is expected that experience in IS will have positive effects on the use of each participant's national sign language.

 

Study area 2: Developing the profession
This part of the programme is concerned with various aspects of analysing the professional situation of sign language interpreters with a view towards developing the profession. Starting out from a comparative inspection of the Deaf communities in the three partner countries in module 1.2, results from interpreting and translation studies will have a place here (module 2.2), but students will also be discussing individual, social, and political aspects of working as a professional interpreting practitioner (module 3.2).

 

Study area 3: Doing research
Theoretical approaches to translation and interpreting studies introduced in module 2.2, on the one hand, and a continuous thread of reflections on the professional experiences of the participants, on the other, lead up to the third major part of the programme, ‘doing research’. Harking back to academic skills first introduced in module 1.3, relevant research methods and critical reflection of research as practised in the field will be the focus of module 4.2, which prepares students for carrying out their own study in the context of producing a Master thesis (module 5), and thus to conclude the programme as ‘practisearchers‘.

 

The following table shows the overall module structure of the programme. Partner countries in charge of individual modules are indicated in brackets (DE, FI, UK). Click on a module to view its aims and learning outcomes.

Sem ECTS Modules
1 15 1.1 Similarity and diversity in European sign languages 5 ECTS DE 1.2 Similarity and diversity in European Deaf communities 5 ECTS UK 1.3 Personal development and academic skills 5 ECTS FI
2 15 2.1 Introducing International Sign 5 ECTS DE 2.2 Interpreting and translation studies* 10 ECTS UK
3 15 3.1 Translating between English and International Sign 5 ECTSUK 3.2 Developing the profession* 10 ECTS FI
4 15 4.1 Interpreting between English and International Sign 5 ECTS FI 4.2 Research methods: Sign language interpreting and translation as profession and performance* 10 ECTS DE
5 30 5 MA thesis 30 ECTS FI | UK | DE
* Module 2.2–4.2 incorporate a continuous thread of reflective practice, which focusses on the participants' professional experience in order to enhance self-awareness and self-assessment skills.
 

Module 1.1: Similarity and diversity in European sign languages

This module will introduce students to the national sign languages of the three partner countries, i.e. FinSL, DGS, and BSL. As a rule, at least two of these sign languages will be new to the students. Basic lexical knowledge and communication skills will be acquired in practical language encounters. Accompanying seminars will impart descriptive key concepts of sign linguistics and lead students to reflect upon similarities and differences between the three sign languages.

Learning Outcomes

Subject Mastery
By the end of this module, students will

  • have developed knowledge and skills for basic communication in, as a rule, two new sign languages
  • know key concepts for the description of sign languages
  • be aware of significant similarities and differences between the three sign languages.

Personal Abilities
By the end of this module, students will have

  • increased their language awareness by noting similarities and differences between different European sign languages
  • broadened their basis for learning International Sign by acquiring basic features of the signed languages of the partner countries.

Module 1.2: Similarity and diversity in European Deaf communities

By the end of this module, students will be familiar with the basic cultural, historical, social and political developments of concern to the Deaf communities of the partner countries, with some reference to relevant development in the European Union. They will have consolidated their theoretical knowledge of current theories of Deaf Studies and ability to reflect upon and discuss issues of relevance to Deaf communities.

Learning Outcomes

Subject Mastery
By the end of this module, students will

  • know basic facts relating to historical, social and political developments of concern to the Finnish Deaf community
  • know basic facts relating to selected historical, social and political developments of concern to the British Deaf community
  • know basic facts relating to selected historical, social and political developments of concern to the German Deaf community
  • know basic facts relating to the history, structure and politics of the European Union with particular focus on topics of relevance to European Deaf communities
  • be familiar with current theories of conceptualising deafness, Deaf culture and Deaf communities.

Personal Abilities
By the end of this module, students will be able

  • to gather, process and reflect upon information relating to one of the other partner countries
  • to present gathered information at an appropriate academic level
  • to use a range of software to support and enhance work at this level

Module 1.3: Personal development and academic skills

By the end of this module, students have acquired knowledge and skills for cooperating transnationally within the programme. They have developed their study skills and knowledge of academic writing. This module introduces students to their 2,5 year programme and what does it require from them. They will be familiar with the organisation and practices of their home university and the EUMASLI programme.

Learning Outcomes

Subject Mastery
By the end of this module, students will

  • be familiar with the program and its practices
  • know basic facts about academic writing in English
  • be familiar with the eLearning environment in EUMASLI and know how to retrieve data

Personal Abilities
By the end of this module, students will be able

  • know how to work in a multicultural group and be aware about the group dynamics
  • have learned to network with students from other countries
  • have learned basic study skills

Module 2.1: Introducing International Sign

This module builds upon students' encounter with different national sign languages in module 1.1. Students will be introduced to International Sign (IS). They will reflect the unique potential of IS as a communicative practice in the international Deaf community, become aware of its structure and be able to use it in communicative contexts at a basic level. They will also be aware of the controversies concerning the political and linguistic status of IS.

Learning Outcomes

Subject Mastery
By the end of this module, students will

  • be aware of the history, status and use of IS
  • know essential features of the structure of IS
  • be aware of structural differences between their national sign languages and IS
  • know a set of lexical signs commonly used in IS communication.

Personal Abilities
By the end of this module, students will be able

  • to communicate in IS at a basic level
  • to participate in the global discourse of Deaf people about matters that concern Deaf people internationally

Module 2.2: Interpreting and translation studies

Building on students' existing knowledge and in preparation for the research modules 4.2 and 5, the aim of this module is to provide students with an overview and an enhanced understanding of theoretical issues in Translation and Interpreting Studies (T&IS). Students will develop an awareness of the development of the field of T&IS and an advanced knowledge of selected influential studies of the discipline, as well as the ability to critically reflect upon existing research in discussions and written texts. Students will be expected to formulate their theoretical understanding, apply this to specific translation/interpreting examples and/or issues and demonstrate their ability to critique academic theories in the form of a written essay according to appropriate academic standards. They will be further expected to communicate their ideas and give constructive feedback in peer groups. Overall, this module will prepare students to have the theoretical knowledge to produce further work at an academic level.

Learning Outcomes

Subject Mastery
By the end of this module, students will be able to

  • demonstrate an understanding and awareness of the developments, main theoretical approaches, concepts and principles relating to T&IS
  • demonstrate an advanced knowledge of selected pertinent theories in the field, including certain topics discussed within the wider field of Translation, ‘mainstream’ Interpreting Studies and/or Sign Language (Translation and) Interpreting Studies
  • apply theoretical approaches to a set of data in line with current thinking in T&IS

Personal Abilities
By the end of this module, students will be able to

  • identify, select and apply theoretical frameworks appropriately to their own questions and examples
  • communicate and present their critical reflections and ideas to an appropriate academic standard
  • critically review and consolidate knowledge and theoretical approaches in T&IS
  • demonstrate some originality and creativity in dealing with professional level issues in Translation Studies
  • use a range of software and academic tools (e.g. libraries, literature databases) to support and enhance work at this level
  • communicate with peers, colleagues and specialists about issues relevant in T&IS

Module 3.1: Translating between English and International Sign

This course builds on the introductory International Sign (IS) module (1.1 and 2.1); by offering a comparative perspective, it lays the foundations for dealing with IS texts in interpreting settings (4.1). The course exploits the existing knowledge and skills of students and their actual experience as practitioners and professionals with the aim of providing students with knowledge and skills preparing them to engage in IS interpreting.

The course aims to provide students with

  • an enhanced awareness of contrasts in structure between IS and national signed and spoken languages
  • an enhanced awareness of the linguistic potential and limitations of IS
  • the ability to communicate in IS beyond a basic level, employing appropriate general, structural and communicative features
  • the ability to articulate and put into practice strategies in translation for exploiting and responding to the linguistic potentials and limitations of IS
  • the ability to undertake basic English-IS and IS-English translation
  • the ability to reflect in an informed way upon their own and others’ translation processes and products where IS is involved (hereafter referred to as ‘IS translation’)

Learning Outcomes

Subject Mastery
By the end of this module, students will be able to

  • articulate and put into practice strategies in translation for exploiting and responding to the linguistic potentials and limitations of IS
  • reflect in an informed way upon their own and others’ translation processes and products where IS is involved (hereafter referred to as ‘IS translation’)
  • show awareness of contrasts in structure between IS and national signed and spoken languages
  • show awareness of the linguistic potential and limitations of IS
  • to communicate in IS beyond a basic level, employing appropriate general, structural and communicative features
  • to undertake basic English-IS and IS-English translation

Personal Abilities
By the end of this module, students will be able to

  • critically reflect on their practice
  • communicate and present their critical reflections and ideas to an appropriate academic standard
  • critically review and consolidate knowledge and theoretical approaches with reference to appropriate literature
  • demonstrate some originality and creativity in dealing with professional level issues in translating between IS and English
  • use a range of software and academic tools to support and enhance work at this level
  • communicate with peers, colleagues and specialists about issues relevant to the practice and theory of translating between IS and English

Module 3.2: Developing the profession

This module explores the profession in a larger social context. Students will deepen their understanding about the overall process of sign language interpreting and translation service production. Students will be made aware of the different structures and bodies of society that are linked to sign language interpreting and translation services. Also, interpreting is seen a professional service that brings together and mediates between different social groups. Sign language interpreting and, increasingly, sign language translation is faced with divergent customer expectations that are often hard to reconcile. Student will learn how to participate in collective policy making and will get tools for developing the profession.

Learning Outcomes

Subject Mastery
By the end of this module, students will

  • have critically reconsidered traditional conceptions of the ‘role’ of sign language interpreters
  • be aware of challenges posed by changes in the make-up of traditional customer groups and the development of new customer groups
  • know how the services are established
  • be aware of policy topics significant for the development of the profession

Personal Abilities
By the end of this module, students will

  • have reflected their position as professionals
  • demonstrate competence in formulating, substantiating and planning the implementation of coherent strategic sign language interpreting and translation policies

Module 4.1: Interpreting between English and International Sign

Students will know the specific demands of conference interpreting. Students will have experienced and reflected upon interpreting between English and IS in conference settings. Students have acquired a basis for developing their ability for interpreting in conference settings further. Students have acquired a basis for developing their ability to apply IS skills in relevant interpreting contexts further.

Learning Outcomes

Subject Mastery
By the end of this module, students will

  • know the specific demands of conference interpreting
  • know how to prepare assignments and team interpreting
  • have experienced and reflected upon interpreting between English and IS in conference settings
  • have acquired a basis for developing their ability for interpreting in conference settings further

Personal Abilities
By the end of this module, students will

  • improved preparing and interpreting skills in conference settings
  • improved reflection skills of team work and interpreting processes
  • skills to co-operate with the presenter
  • skills to have control over one's work and interpreting assignments

Module 4.2: Research methods: Sign language interpreting and translation as profession and performance

The aim of this module is to provide students with a critically engaged outlook towards research and policy texts which have the professional structure and the performance of sign language interpreting and translation as their topic.

Students will develop an understanding of relevant social and linguistic research methodology and be given tools with which to make informed assessments concerning the validity of research findings through analyses of published texts from relevant fields of practice and scholarship.

This module will guide students towards developing small-scale, pilot research projects in areas relating to (a) the profession of sign language interpreting and translation and (b) the performance of practitioners in the field, including the analysis of language output. At least one of these projects will be undertaken (at an appropriate – i.e. small-scale, pilot – level) and evaluated.

Learning Outcomes

Subject Mastery
By the end of this module, students will be able

  • to demonstrate, through the selection and design of small-scale, pilot research projects, an awareness of the significance of fundamental issues in research design
  • to produce and evaluate at least one robust analysis of a pilot-scale set of data relating to the profession or performance of sign language interpreting and translation

Personal Abilities
By the end of this module, students will

  • be able to critique published texts from relevant fields of practice and scholarship, identifying methodological strengths and weaknesses in light of relevant theoretical frames of reference
  • have developed initial competence in identifying, eliciting and accessing data appropriate for specific research purposes
  • have developed competence in selecting and substantiating research methods appropriate for addressing specific empirical questions

Module 5: MA thesis Aims and objectives

The module builds upon work done in research module 4.2. It provides an opportunity for students to undertake an independent study related to the professional structure and/or the performance of sign language interpreting and translating. Students will be expected to demonstrate an ability to develop and sustain a logical and consistent argument in relation to the analysis of relevant issues. This must be accomplished with due regard for the validity of available evidence and methods of enquiry.

By completing their master thesis students will demonstrate

  • an awareness of issues of current or potential significance for the development of the field of sign language interpreting and translation
  • an awareness of issues pertinent to carrying out empirical research
  • the ability to formulate research questions for an independent study and develop an appropriate methodological design
  • the ability to gather, analyse and interpret relevant data
  • the ability to present the results of an independent study in a coherent form according to established scientific standards

Organisation

Semester 1 serves as a general introduction to the programme and its European perspective, providing introductions to the different sign languages and Deaf communities involved, as well as the required academic and study skills. The semester will be organized around three one-week blockseminars, one to take place in each partner country.

Modules in semester 2–4 conform to the following pattern: An initial self-study period is followed by contact time in a two-week blockseminar at one of the partner universities; subsequent individual or group work is followed by a concluding event, which will often involve media-based interaction through video or online conferences.

The international blockseminar is the central event of semester 2–4. The blockseminars will be offered by the partner in charge of the ‘International skills’ module in each semester (i.e., DE in semester 2, UK in semester 3, and FI in semester 4). The blockseminar will be organized roughly as follows: Half of the contact time is devoted to the ‘International skills’ module, the second half is dedicated to the other module delivered in the semester. Delivery of these modules may involve the attendance of teachers from partner countries.

Semester 5 will consist of individual work leading up to the Master thesis. Each student will be supervised by two tutors from two of the participating countries. Please note that this semester, accumulating 30 ECTS credits, demands full-time study. At the end of module 5, there will be a conference to conclude the programm. Students will be requested to present their work to each other, members of the partner institutions and a wider audience of stakeholders in the field.