Industrial relations and the deaf community : An interpretative phenomenological analysis of the experience of sign language interpreter industrial action.
Riddle, Samantha (2019)
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Using a case study of a current boycott of the multi-lingual agency; Language Empire, by a significant number of sign language interpreters in the Newcastle area, the aim of my research was to explore how deaf service-users experience the effects of sign language interpreter industrial action. Drawing on literature from Industrial Relations, Translation and Interpreting theory, Deaf studies and Sign language interpreting theory I situate the unique position of sign language interpreter/deaf service-user industrial relations in the current economic climate. There is a dearth of research into the effects of industrial action on end service-users, therefore sign language interpreters find themselves in a dilemma while navigating the difficult decision-making process when considering taking industrial action. I used first-person accounts collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews. I then analysed those accounts using an IPA method chosen to respect the diverse way in which every individual will apply meaning to their lived experience. Six super-ordinate themes were identified across the group, each with a specific focus; on Power, Knowledge, Responsibility, Justice, Relationship with interpreters and Trust. The findings of the research highlighted the extremely different ways in which the boycott was experienced by the participants. This research explores the evolving relationship between interpreters and the deaf community in an economic landscape where instances of industrial action are becoming ever more frequent. The findings of this research, which emerged as a result of the analysis, are presented as tangible examples of both good and bad practice when planning and conducting industrial action. This is in the hope that the individual and personal experiences of those affected will be at the forefront of informing any future boycotts by sign language interpreters.