Facilitating Legitimate Peripheral Participation for Student Sign Language Interpreters in Medical Settings

Facilitating Legitimate Peripheral Participation for Student Sign Language Interpreters in Medical Settings

Christopher Stone, Thaïsa Hughes
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9308-9.ch015
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The chapter explores student interpreters' learning of medical interpreting within a situated learning context that necessarily includes senior interpreters, senior healthcare practitioners, and deaf community members. Learning within this community of practice exposes students to the multimodal nature of sign-language interpreter-mediated interaction, including co-speech and no-speech gestures, linguistic and non-linguistic communicative actions, and the use of environmental tools and the situated use of language and interaction. Situated learning within the clinical-skills lab enables legitimate peripheral participation that closely emulates the authentic interpreting task. Data from roleplays based on a clinical-skills lab are analysed and examples are identified to show that student interpreters are driven by notions of language, rather than communication fidelity. The multimodal nature of the interaction within the situated learning environment facilitates the students' exposure to and learning of situationally driven interpreting choices.
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In this chapter, the authors explore the professional development function of roleplays that take place in clinical-skills labs with hearing clinicians, student sign-language interpreters and deaf patients. The roleplays occur in the semester before students engage in practicum/internships within public service/community settings (semester five in a six-semester BA). Within their university, the authors work with a senior nurse practitioner to base roleplays within the nursing clinical-skills lab used to train student nurses and other healthcare professionals, to more closely resemble the experience of interpreting in a real-world clinical setting. They also work with key members of the local deaf community to ensure their participation in the roleplays. Experienced interpreters, i.e. the senior lecturers, run the roleplays and discuss in debriefing sessions involving all stakeholders the decisions the student interpreters make, demonstrating ways of managing language and interaction (Roy, 2000; Wadensjö, 1998). The engagement of these participants is representative of the medical ‘community of practice’ (Lave & Wenger, 1991) of which the sign-language interpreting students will become a part, i.e. the professionals and deaf people with whom they will work when undertaking medical interpreting assignments.

The participation of the experienced interpreters, the non-signing nurse and the deaf community member facilitates legitimate peripheral participation (LPP) (Lave & Wenger, 1991) in a medical interpreting ‘community of practice’ for the student interpreters. LPP is the process by which the students start to undertake some of the tasks expected of an interpreter (i.e. preparation, interpretation and interaction decisions) with those involved in the community of practice, i.e. master interpreters, master health practitioners and patients, in an environmentally authentic setting.

The topics covered within the roleplays are either based upon the health experiences of the deaf participants, to expose students to authentic responses of deaf patients receiving care for conditions they have experienced; or on common medical conditions that give rise to consultations in primary healthcare, for which interpreters will be expected to interpret, and which might be novel for the deaf participants. Emulating the patient’s reactions to novel situations also facilitates deaf participants asking genuine questions. The widely reported limited access of deaf people to health information (SignHealth, 2014) supports exposing students in this setting to the type of questions that deaf community members may well ask.

This analysis focuses on the multimodal nature of the interaction between the nurse and the deaf patient, i.e. the linguistic and gestural communicative actions used in speech, sign and manual gestures (Kusters, 2017). By engaging with a community of practice, the roleplays allow the student interpreters to see the lived practice of being a nurse, including the natural use of co-speech and no-speech gestures to deliver treatment. It also facilitates the student interpreters witnessing the lived experience of deaf people, viewing linguistic and non-linguistic communicative actions within the healthcare setting to understand how they engage with a health practitioner.

The student interpreters must understand that when interpreting, several strategies are available to them. Linguistically, the student can ‘tell’ the participants what was said; linguistically encode via depicting language (Dudis, 2011) what is being shown; or interactionally point to the language or gestures of the participants to draw the interlocutor’s attention to communicative behaviours being used. This telling, showing and pointing (Stone, 2019) must also be supplemented by ‘doing nothing’, i.e. letting the nurse and the patient interact directly so that clinical rapport is established, with the nurse taking clinical responsibility for the patient.

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