Exploring the Professional Self: A Study of Flemish Sign Language/Dutch Interpreters in Times of Professionalisation
Gebruers, Karolien (2019)
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Julkaisun pysyvä osoite on
The signed language interpreting profession in Flanders is currently undergoing a professionalisation process. During the last decade a training programme has been established at an academic level, and the number of interpreters who undertake the job full-time has increased. These two developments have inspired this study on the perception of the professional self of Flemish Sign Language/Dutch interpreters with different educational backgrounds, which is a topic that has received little attention to date. I examined the perception of the professional self of interpreters as individuals, as well as a part of a larger professional network through a sociological lens. The use of visual methods, i.e. autophotography and egocentric sociograms, was combined with semi-structured interviews. The findings of this study suggest that SLIs perceive their professional self in terms of persistent role metaphors and dichotomous categories. Despite the poor working conditions, the heavy workload, the feelings of self-doubt and the work pressure, the interpreters seemingly find fulfilment in their work. They want to be perceived and treated as professionals, and they see themselves as representatives of the profession by honouring and respecting it. In addition, continuous professional development is important to the participants of this study. Interpreters are part of a professional network and they depend on colleagues, interlocutors, training programmes and organisations, such as the interpreting agency and both deaf and interpreter associations. I argue that next to working together with all these stakeholders in order to elevate the profession, every signed language interpreter as individual can instigate change.