[Course] Sign language interpreting in international conferences & high-level meetings

Date: 8th – 12th June 2020

Venue: Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Our intensive 5 day course on sign language interpreting in international conferences and high-level meetings (SLIC) for professionally qualified national sign language interpreters focuses on strengthening International Sign skills, enhancing awareness of relevant European and international institutions, as well as practising translingual interpreting skills, all whilst working between primarily English and International Sign, but also other spoken and signed languages. 


The course will be taught by expert staff from the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies (LINCS), which has been offering courses in Conference Interpreting since 1970, and is one of only four UK university departments that have been granted membership of CIUTI – an international body which brings together universities specialising in translating and interpreter training.

LINCS is also partnered with the Magdeburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany and HUMAK University of Applied Sciences in Finland in the delivery of the European Masters in Sign Language Interpreting.

Thus we draw together our expertise in training both spoken and signed language interpreters to deliver this pioneering course, which is supported through part-funding by the Directorate General for Interpretation (SCIC) at the European Commission, and has been developed in collaboration with a range of deaf and hearing experts and representatives from key stakeholder organisations including the World Federation of the DeafWorld Association of Sign Language InterpretersEuropean Union of the DeafEuropean Forum of Sign Language Interpreters, the National Technical Institute of the Deaf-Rochester Institute of TechnologyOverseas Interpreting, the AIIC Sign Language Network and the United Nations in Geneva

Our state-of-the-art digital interpreting and sign language labs will be available exclusively for use by students on this course, as well as access to bespoke visual software for recording and annotating sign language interpreting work.

The course will be delivered primarily by leading sign language, deaf studies and sign language interpreting researchers, educators and practitioners at Heriot-Watt, including:

  • Professor Jemina Napier: Accredited WFD-WASLI International Sign interpreter, AIIC Associate member, Registered Qualified BSL/English interpreter, Accredited Auslan/English interpreter, expertise in research and teaching on sign language interpreting
  • Professor Graham H. Turner: Sign language policy and Interpreting Studies academic, co-founder of the EUMASLLI and Heriot-Watt BSL UG programmes, expertise in research and teaching on sign language interpreting and BSL policy
  • Dr Annelies Kusters: Deaf Studies academic, expertise in research and teaching on deaf ethnographies, professional mobilities, translanguaging and International Sign
  • Dr Robert Adam: Accredited WFD-WASLI International Sign interpreter, Registered Qualified BSL-ISL interpreter, Registered Qualified BSL-English interpreter, expertise in research and teaching on sign language contact and sign language interpreting (joining Heriot-Watt staff in April 2020)
  • Dr Stacey Webb: Certified ASL/English interpreter, expertise in teaching sign language interpreting and research on sign language interpreting pedagogy
  • Andy Carmichael: Accredited WFD-WASLI International Sign interpreter, AIIC Associate member, Registered Qualified BSL/English interpreter, Accredited Auslan/English interpreter, Chair of the Board of Association of Sign Language Interpreters UK (ASLI UK), in-house interpreter at Heriot-Watt, expertise in training and mentoring sign language interpreters
  • Christopher Tester: Accredited WFD-WASLI International Sign interpreter, AIIC full member, Certified ASL/English, PhD student at Heriot-Watt, expertise in training sign language interpreters

In addition, further input will come from LINCS academics who are experts in teaching multilingual, spoken language conference interpreting, and external collaborators with expertise in International Sign and International Sign interpreting.  

Target Audience

This intensive course is targeted at sign language interpreters from any country who have not yet achieved WFD-WASLI International Sign interpreter accreditation, or are already accredited but do not feel that they have previously received sufficient training and would like more professional skills development. Priority will be given to those who are not yet accredited

Applications are paticularly encouraged from interpreters who are deaf, female or ethnic minorities. 

A quote of places will be offered to European-based interpreters due to the part funding of the course by the European Commission.

Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Hold a national sign language interpreting qualification (or equivalent)
  • Have a minimum of 5 years post-qualification (or equivalent) experience in national sign language interpreting
  • Have extensive experience of national sign language interpreting in conference or high-level meetings (minimum of 50 hours)
  • Evidence of IS conference interpreting experience (minimum of 20 hours) 

Applications from deaf or hearing interpreters from countries that do not have established undergraduate sign language interpretering programmes, or professional infrastructure, will be considered on a case-by-case basis for the equivalent knowledge and experience.

In support of their application, interpreters must provide two letters of reference: one from a deaf client and one from a co-worker interpreter who can comment on the applicant’s International Sign skills, and their conference/high-level meetng interpreting experience and skills. 

Course Goals

Thsi intensive course has three goals:

  1. To prepare interpreters to apply for WASLI-WFD International Sign interpreter accreditation.
  2. To increase the number of International Sign interpreters working internationally, paticularly in Europe to meet needs at the European Commission, the European Parliament, at United Nations Geneva, adn also for academic conferences and political meetings.
  3. To trial a cirriculum content for a potential new Masters programme in Sign Language Interpreting at Conferences to be offered through LINCS, Heriot-Watt University.

Please note that completion of the intensive training course does not guarantee accreditation of offer work as an International Sign interpreter. 

All intensive course participants will receive a certificate of attendance and a recommendation of readiness to apply for accreditation.

Course Content

The final course content and delivery will be finalised once the language combinations of the participants have been confirmed. Overall, using a case study approach, the 5 day course will include discussions and practical sessions on:

  • The International Sign/mulitlingual interpreting landscape
  • EU and international organisations
  • Enhancing translingual skills
  • International Sign ‘therapy’
  • Applied interpreting skills
  • Unilateral interpreting
  • Bilateral interpreting
  • Relay interpreting
  • Critical reflective practice
  • One-to-one structured feedback on interpreting
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Professionalism and ethics

Upon completing the course, all attendees will receive a certificate of attendance.  

How to Apply

Please click here to download and complete the application form. Once completed, please send your form with your two reference letters (as detailed above) to ctiss@hw.ac.uk by 29th February 2020.

Please note that there is a maximum of 20 places available.


The attendance fee for this course is £500 per student.

This fee includes free access to the GoReact video software for sign language interpreting feedback during the course and for the 6 months following the course. The fee also includes attendance to an organised evening dinner during the course.

Please note that travel to Edinburgh, accommodation costs and any other subistence are not included in the attendance fee.


The course will be held in Edinburgh on 8th – 12th June 2020.


The course will be held in the Henry Prais building (Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies) at Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh, Scotland.


For all academic queries, please contact the course coordinator at j.napier@hw.ac.uk.

For all organisational queries, please contact the Executive Education team at cpd.soss@hw.ac.uk.