Sign language interpreting services: a quick fix for inclusion?

Maartje De Meulder, Hilde Haualand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article rethinks the impact of sign language interpreting services (SLIS) as a social institution. It starts from the observation that ‘access’ for deaf people is tantamount to availability of sign language interpreters, and the often uncritically proposed and largely accepted solution at the institutional level to lack of access seems to be increasing the number of interpreters. Using documented examples from education and healthcare settings, we raise concerns that rise when SLIS become a prerequisite for public service provision. In doing so, we problematize SLIS as replacing or concealing the need for language-concordant education and public services. We argue that like any social institution, SLIS should be studied and analysed critically. This includes more scrutiny about how different kinds of ‘accesses’ can be implemented without SLIS, and more awareness of contextual languaging choices deaf people make beyond the use of interpreters.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTranslation and Interpreting Studies
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sep 2019


  • sign language interpreting
  • public services
  • deaf
  • access
  • inclusion


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