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Personal Information
Name Leeson, Lorraine
College Address Centre for Deaf Studies,
Trinity Centre, S J H
Main Department C.L.C.S.
College Title Director of the Centre - Deaf Studies
College Tel +353 1 896 4371
Web http://
Lorraine Leeson is Professor of Deaf Studies at the Centre for Deaf Studies. Her research work is multidisciplinary in nature, influenced by her background in Deaf Studies, Gender Studies and Linguistics. She has published widely on aspects of the linguistics and sociolinguistics of signed languages with a specific interest in Irish Sign Language and in the area of sign language interpreting. Her doctoral work was the first to examine aspects of the morphosyntax of Irish Sign Language, and subsequent to this, she has published and lectured widely on aspects of the grammar of Irish Sign Language and in the area of signed language/spoken language interpreting. Lorraine was a member of the first cohort of professionally trained Irish Sign Language/English interpreters in Ireland, and she continues to interpret occasionally. She has engaged in pan-European research work with academic institutions, Deaf communities and interpreting organisations for over two decades. Current projects include the European Commission funded Justisigns Project (access to justice across several EU member states) and PRO-Signs (funded by the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML)) which looks the teaching, learning and assessment of signed languages for professional purposes with collaboration from over 30 countries across Europe. She is currently working on a volume on applied sign linguistics with Jemina Napier (due 2014). Lorraine was named a European Commission Language Ambassador in 2008 for her work on Irish Sign Language. In 2013-14, Lorraine served as the "Julian and Virginia Cornell Distinguished Visiting Professor" at Swarthmore College (Pennsylvania, USA). She chairs the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters' Expert Group, is a member of the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters (efsli) board (co-opted in 2014) and is a member of the AIIC UK/Ireland Network on Sign Language Interpreting.
Teaching interests and responsibilities
Teaching: In 2014-15, Lorraine will be contributing to modules on Sign Linguistics; Liaison Interpreting; Simultaneous Interpreting; Interactive Discourse Analysis; Language, Mind and Society; and Current Topics in Deaf Studies. She will also serve as mentor to students on placement on the Bachelor in Deaf Studies programme. Lorraine supervises students focusing on aspects of sign linguistics, applied sign linguistics and interpreting studies at masters and doctoral levels. External Examining: Lorraine has served as external examiner on the Heriot Watt University TOTT programme (2007/8) and served in this capacity for their BSL/English interpreting programme (2008-11). In 2008/9 she was appointed as external examiner to Wolverhampton University's Bachelors programme in BSL/English interpreting and in 2010 was appointed as the University of Durham's external examiner for their MA in Translation Studies (BSL/English) programme. She was external examiner for the University of Bristol's (Centre for Deaf Studies) B.Sc.(2003-2007) and their M.Sc. programme (2006-2009). She has also examined postgraduate dissertations for the Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown (ITB), Auckland University of Technology (AUT), New Zealand, Macquarie University, Australia, Durham University (UK) and the University of South Africa (UNISA). She currently serves as external examiner for Queen's University Belfast (2013-present) and Durham University. New Technologies for Teaching, Learning and Assessment: Lorraine is extremely interested in harnessing new technologies for teaching purposes, be this in the realm of elearning, blended learning, or using ICT in traditional environments. This has prompted involvement in a number of European Commission funded projects and the SIF II Deaf Studies in Ireland project (2009-12). See: for some further detail about past projects.
Professional Qualifications
Qualification Institution Class of Degree Title of Dissertation Date Conferred
PhD in Linguistics University of Dublin, Trinity College   Aspects of Verbal Valency in Irish Sign Language 2002
M. Phil in Linguistics University of Dublin, Trinity College   The Marking of Time in Signed Languages with Specific Reference to Irish Sign Language 1997
Diploma in H. Ed. (Irish Sign Language/English Interpreting) University of Bristol     1995
Certificate in Feminism, Politics and the Economy University College Dublin     2005
M.A. Trinity College Dublin     2011
Details Date
Member of the Advisory Board, DCAL - Deafness, Cognition and Langauge Research Centre, University College London 2006 - present
Member of the Irish Sign Link ISL/English Acccreditation Review Panel 2004-2006
Member of the Editorial Board, Deaf Worlds: International Journal of Deaf Studies 2001- present
Editor of "The Sign Language Translator and Interpreter", St. Jerome Publishing. 2007-2011
Member of the Partnership Group on Deaf Education (CIDP-IDS-DeafHear-Schools for the Deaf-CDS) 2007-present
Administrative Functions
Details Level Date From Date To
Director of Research - School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences 2014 present
Responsible for the day-to-day management of the Centre for Deaf Studies. Function additionally as Coordinator of the Diploma in Irish Sign Language/English Interpreting Director, Centre for Deaf Studies 2001 present
Member of the Research Ethics Committee of the School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences. 2007 present
Member of the School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Science's Fitness to Practice Committee Member 2011 present
Member of the Executive Committee of the School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences 2006 2012
Membership of Professional Institutions, Associations, Societies
Details Date From Date To
Irish Association of Applied Linguistics (IRAAL) 1994 present
International Cognitive Linguistics Association
Irish Association of Sign Language Interpreters (IASLI) (disbanded in 2008) 1993 2008
Irish Translators and Interpreters Association (ITIA)
Conference of Interpreter Trainers (CIT) 2008 present
More Memberships>>>
Awards and Honours
Award Date
NRB Scholarship 1996
British Academy Fellowship 2004
European Commission Language Ambassador of the Year Award 2009
Fellowship, TCD 2009
European Language Label Award for Medisigns Project (LLP/LdV/TOI/2010/IRL-511) 2013
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Education Details
School/College Date From Date To
Centre for Deaf Studies, University of Bristol 1992 1994
University of Dublin, Trinity College 1994 2001
University College Dublin 2004 2004
Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
American Sign Language Medium Medium Medium
British Sign Language Medium Medium Medium
English Fluent Fluent Fluent
French Medium Basic Basic
Irish Basic Basic Basic
Irish Sign Language Fluent Fluent Fluent
Research Institutes / Centres / Groups
Research Institutes / Centres / Groups Description of Role Date From Date To
Centre for Deaf Studies Director
Employment Details
Position Held Job Description Where Date From Date To
Director of Research   School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences 2014 present
Director Responsible for the day-to-day management and operation of the Centre Centre for Deaf Studies, School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences 2001 present
Visiting Professor Julian and Virginia Cornell Distinguished Visiting Professor, based at the Department of Linguistics. Swarthmore College, USA 2013 2014
Visiting Professor Visiting Professor to Department of Sign Language Stockholm University 25 May 2013 1 June 2013
Executive Director Responsible for the day to day management of the EBC. European Brain Council 2005 2005
More Employment Details>>>
Description of Research Interests
Lorraine is interested in research on (1) linguistics & applied linguistics of sign languages, (2) interpreting studies, and (3) trans-disciplinary work that impacts on deaf studies topics. Her focus on the linguistics and sociolinguistics of signed languages includes work on the morpho-syntax and semantics of Irish Sign Language (ISL) (including issues of word order), language planning issues vis-a-vis Deaf education and the use of Irish Sign Language, gendered issues in the Irish Deaf community, particularly in terms of language use. Cognitive linguistics interests include the role of metaphor and metonymy in ISL, the impact of iconicity on the language, simultaneity in signed languages and point of view predication. Her applied linguistics work includes the development of a corpus of sign language learners, from which a number of studies are planned. She is also the coordinator of the European Centre for Modern Language (ECML)'s PRO-Signs project, which looks at the teaching, learning and assessment of sign languages for professional purposes. Her interpreting studies research includes a focus on provision of interpreters in a range of domains, quality of outputs and assessment issues. Current research includes an international projects that look at the experiences of deaf leaders in working with interpreters and work as the Irish PI on Justisigns, a project that looks at access to justice for deaf people, with a particular focus on interpreting in police settings. In terms of Deaf Education, she has published on stakeholder perspectives on Deaf education in Ireland , and is also interested in the use of new technologies in traditional, blended learning and online environments in delivering accessible education at tertiary level. Lorraine has also served as a reviewer for funding applications for governmental institutions in Ireland, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Qatar, the USA and at European Union level and reviewed submissions for publication for a broad range of international publishing houses.
Research Interests
Bilingual/Bicultural Education Deaf Education Deaf Studies Deafness
Discourse markers E-Learning Educational Evaluation/Assessment Information technology in education
Interpreting Irish Sign Language Language Policy Language acquisition
Morpho-syntax of signed languages Semantics Signed Languages Sociology of Language
cognitive linguistics interpreting studies modality and language
Research Projects
Project title Justisigns - €90,230
Summary Justisigns is concerned with Deaf people's access to justice. It is specifically concerned with the following issues: (1)The lack of or limited status afforded to signed languages inhibits access to information at all stages of the legal process for Deaf people; (2)The limited understanding in legal settings of the constraints imposed by the interpreting process when working between any two languages, with additional challenges arising when working between a spoken (auditory-verbal) and signed (visual-spatial) language; (3) The lack of awareness of the historical educational and cultural background of Deaf people which gives rise to challenges in legal settings. Partners include KU Leuven (Belgium), Heriot Watt University (Belgium), HfH (Switzerland), the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters (EFSLI) (Belgium), the European Legal Interpreters and Translators Association (EULITA) (Belgium), with input from Gallaudet University (USA). The project is managed by Interesource Group (Ireland) Limited.
Funding Agency European Commission (total budget: €366,467.00)
Programme Leondardo da Vinci
Type of Project Education and Research
Date from December 2013
Date to June 2016
Person Months 30

Project title PRO-Sign
Summary The main aim of this ECML funded project (2012-2015) is to establish European standards for specifying sign language proficiency in Deaf Studies and Sign Language Interpreting programs at institutions of Higher Education. Specifically, the project will (a) provide definitions of proficiency levels for signed languages, (b) provide an elaboration of curricula that focus on these levels with specifications of signed language curricula for L2 learners; and (c) develop a sample assessment kit for signed language proficiency. Ultimately, it will enhance awareness and inclusion of European sign languages and Deaf communities in European society. The project is coordinated by the following: Dr. Lorraine Leeson, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland; Dr. Beppie van den Bogaerde, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands; Dr. Tobias Haug, Interkantonale Hochschule für Heilpädagogik, Switzerland; Dr. Christian Rathmann, Universität Hamburg, Germany; This is the first time that the ECML has funded a signed language related project - and we are very excited about the possibilities that this programme allows for. For more information in English and International Sign see:
Funding Agency European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML)
Programme ECML
Type of Project Language Teaching and Assessment
Date from 2012
Date to 2015
Person Months

Project title Medisigns - €52,500 - Leonardo da Vinci (LLP/LdV/TOI/2010/IRL-511)
Summary This project represents a ground-breaking initiative that focuses on providing language and communication skills to Deaf people, interpreters, and those in the medical profes-sion. Sometimes it is not possible to get an interpreter in a healthcare setting, often leaving a Deaf person or the healthcare provider in a situation which potentially compromises the level of patient care being delivered. Potentially, this forces a Deaf patient to either wait until an interpreter becomes available or rely on a family member or friend to casu-ally interpret on their behalf. This is not ideal, especially in medical situations that are sensitive, confidential or private. From the perspective of a Deaf community and the project consortium, it is important to note that the provision of qualified interpreters, especially those trained in healthcare aspects, is not viewed as a luxury but as a fundamental human right to the access and provision of appropriate healthcare. Working with consor-tium leader, Interesource Group (Ireland) Limited,Trintiy College Dublin (Ireland), Heriot Watt University (Scotland), University of Stockholm (Sweden), University of Nicosia (Cypress) and the Turkish Federation of the Deaf (Turkey) developed content to support training for frontline medical staff regarding working with interpreters and Deaf community members, training for interpreters regarding working in medical con-texts, and training for Deaf community members regarding what to expect when they en-counter medical situations and have to engage with medical staff, mediated through in-terpreters. This is the first time that such an approach has been applied in Europe and this project has secured the support of (amongst others) the World Federation of the Deaf, the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters, the European Union of the Deaf and the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters. In 2013, this project was awarded the prestigious European Language Label.
Funding Agency European Commission
Programme Leonardo da Vinci
Type of Project
Date from 2010
Date to 2012
Person Months

Project title Hidden Histories: Intercultural Dialogue and Learning - €81,590
Summary The project aims to develop a range of strategies to encourage people who do not participate in social or civil society to engage in developing community histories. This project will use the expertise and experience of professionals working in the Lifelong Learning sectors, museums and archives, to work with communities of both place and interest to create and utilise community histories. This work will include working with individuals and groups to use existing archives; training in oral history and life writing to generate material for exhibitions and archives; reminiscence work; training for people to work as volunteers or in paid employment in archives; creating on-line archives. In order to meet the needs of Deaf community groups, in both Sussex and Ireland all work with the community will be supported by BSL and ISL interpretation. In addition, BSL and ISL summaries of website content will be provided to enhance accessibility. An outcome of this learning process will be to foster understanding for each other by facilitating intercultural exchange, by giving communities with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds the opportunity to communicate with and learn from each other. This work will be sustained through the generation of material that can be used with other groups of learners in the future, thus creating a valuable archive of hidden histories. The project will work with three target groups, as exemplars of communities within the EU, and will be reached through the extensive networks of project partners. The intended users include the Deaf community which has about 700k Deaf signed languages users in Europe. Following from European recommendations for the recognition of signed languages in member states (1988/1998/2003), we will work with this minority linguistic community to record their lives and identify and collect cultural artefacts. Other partners include rural communities in the UK and Finland who are socially and economically disadvantaged by geographic isolation, who also need to meet the challenge of rapid change in the rural economy and to exploit the potentialities of transition of population distribution between temporary/recreational living and permanent/occupational living within communities, that is evidently taking place in many parts of the EU. Finally, we will work with migrant communities, to capture and promote their experiences and perceptions of life in their new communities, and to record their cultural heritage. Engaging in learning will lead to the development of social capital and linguistic skills, and also promote a sense of belonging and place in the world. The consortium is led by the University of Sussex (UK). Partners are Trinity College Dublin, inspire - Verein (Austria) and Noema-CMI (Finland). Dr. John Bosco Conama leads the CDS work for Hidden Histories.
Funding Agency European Union
Programme Grundtvig
Type of Project Lifelong Learning Programme
Date from November 2010
Date to October 2012
Person Months 24

Project title SIGNALL 3 (LLP/LdV/TOI/2009/IRL-525) - €55,670
Summary Led by Interesource Group (Ireland) Limited, this project builds on the goals of SIGNALL I and SIGNALL II, creating digital multimodal content about how to work with the Deaf community (with a focus on educational and mental health issues) localised for delivery in 5 countries: Ireland, UK, Finland, Turkey and Belgium.
Funding Agency European Commission
Programme Leonardo da Vinci
Type of Project Educational
Date from 2009
Date to 2011
Person Months 24

More Research Projects>>>
Publications and Other Research Outputs
Peer Reviewed
Lorraine Leeson and John I. Saeed, Irish Sign Language: A Cognitive Linguistic Approach, Edinburgh, Scotland, Edinburgh University Press, 2012, 244pp
Lorraine Leeson, Ad-hoc, Risky, Unregulated: Interpreting in Medical Settings in Ireland, IATIS 2012, Belfast, July 2012, 2012
Lorraine Leeson, The Irish Deaf Community and Signed Language Interpreting, Dublin City University, 6 & 9 March, 2012, Dr. Dorothy Kenny
Lorraine Leeson, The Practise Profession Approach to Healthcare Interpreting, 24-25 February 2012, In:The Practise Profession Approach to Healthcare Interpreting, 2012, Presented by Robyn Dean. Centre for Deaf Studies, Trinity College Dublin
Notes: [This workshop examines the practise of interpreting in a different frame and as a result, challenges some long-held ideas about ethics and decision-making. This newer frame also appreciates several practise realities that must be overtly addressed. First is that interpreters are active and influential participants in the communication event, that the constructs of language and culture which we learn to use to analyse interpreting work are insufficient for appreciating the myriad demands of community work, and last, that a discussion of the interpreter’s role is incomplete without a discussion of the interpreter’s responsibility. It is through this new lens that we consider some of the unique demands of healthcare interpreting and discuss not best practises but a best practise process, a different vehicle for formulating and critiquing work decisions. Participants will leave this workshop with new insights about their work, ethical decisions, and expectations for professional development. Robyn K. Dean, CI/CT, MA was appointed to the faculty of the University of Rochester School of Medicine in 1999, in recognition of her scholarship in the interpreting field and leadership in the education of interpreters, medical students, and other health care professionals. She has been an interpreter for over 20 years, with particular service experience in medical and mental health settings. Ms. Dean holds a BA in American Sign Language Interpreting and an MA in Theology. Ms. Dean's demand control schema has been the topic of numerous presentations, publications, and grant projects nationally and internationally. Her contribution to interpreter education was recognized in 2008 with the Mary Stotler Award, an award conferred every two years, conjointly, by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and the Conference of Interpreter Trainers. Ms. Dean is currently a PhD Candidate at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.]
Non Peer Reviewed
Lorraine Leeson, Dr. Hanneke Bot Masterclass - "Interpreting in Mental Health Settings", 13 April 2012, 2012, Trinity College Dublin
More Publications and Other Research Outputs >>>

Last updated 16 November 2010 by