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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Educational interpreters’ sign language vocabulary development practices and internet use Storey, Brian Cameron


Sign Language interpreters working in schools often face isolation in terms of their Sign Language vocabulary development opportunities. The internet appears to offer a reasonable but unexplored solution to this form of language isolation. The purpose of this study was to determine the key demographic characteristics of educational interpreters in British Columbia, the resources they use to learn new vocabulary, and to shed light on their internet use and access levels. The key demographics that were associated with interpreters' access to time and materials in advance of a lesson were job title and graduation from an interpreter training program. Interpreters with job titles that reflected their status as interpreters had on average 2.3 hours more preparatory time a week than interpreters who had job titles focused on their role as an educational assistant. Interpreters reported encountering unknown English vocabulary an average of 6.7 times a week. Human resources (colleagues, Deaf adults) were used significantly more often than non-human (books, CD-ROMs, videotapes, internet) for developing new vocabulary. The human characteristic of a resource also had a significant effect on its satisfaction rating. The internet scored the highest dissatisfaction rating of all resources. The resource use results showed that convenience was more important than quality. Books were used more often than videotapes, CD-ROMs, and the internet; however, the latter three had higher percentages of very satisfied users than books. Internet connection speed and the design of internet vocabulary resources online were identified as current issues keeping the internet from reaching its potential as an easily accessible visual resource. Access to the internet was limited due to lack of time. There was much disparity between the amount of preparatory time written into job contracts: 33% percent of interpreters reported having no preparatory time, while only five subjects were aware of preparatory time written into their contracts. Based on the open-ended comments and suggestions made by participants, the internet appears to be a viable vocabulary development tool for educational interpreters. However, in the opinion of the survey participants, the currently available internet-based Sign Language dictionaries are clearly inadequate with regard to meeting their needs. To address the identified inadequacies the study concludes with a set of recommendations synthesized from the survey data for designers of internet-based Sign Language resources aimed at supporting educational interpreters.

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