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Intricacies of Sign Language Access
“Signed language interpreting is about access,” states author Jeremy L. Brunson at the outset of his new book, and no manifestation of access for deaf people can be considered more complex than video relay services (VRS). In Video Relay Service Interpreters: Intricacies of Sign Language Access, Brunson delineates exactly how complicated the service can be, first by analyzing sign language interpreting as a profession and its relation to both hearing and deaf clients. He describes how sign language interpreters function in Deaf communities and how regulatory processes imposed by VRS providers can constrain communication access based on each individual’s needs. Brunson proceeds by acclimating readers to the environment of VRS and how the layout of the typical physical plant alters the practice of interpreting. The focus then falls upon intended VRS users, providing insights into their expectations. Interpreters shared their experiences with Brunson in 21 formal interviews and discussions. Many remarked on the differences between face-to-face interpreting and VRS training, which often runs counter to the concept of relating informally with deaf clients as a way to expand access. This thoughtful, sociological study outlines texts that originate between users and interpreters and how they can be used to develop VRS access. Video Relay Service Interpreters concludes with the implications of VRS interpreting for sign language interpreting in general and suggests where scholarship will lead in the future.
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An Introduction to Variation in American Sign Language
This introductory text celebrates another dimension of diversity in the United States Deaf community — variation in the way American Sign Language (ASL) is used by Deaf people all across the nation. The different ways people have of saying or signing the same thing defines variation in language. In spoken English, some people say “soda,” others say “pop,” “Coke,” or “soft drink;” in ASL, there are many signs for “birthday,” “Halloween,” “early,” and of course, “pizza.” What’s Your Sign for PIZZA? derives from an extensive seven-year research project in which more than 200 Deaf ASL users representing different ages, genders and ethnic groups from seven different regions were videotaped sharing their signs for everyday vocabulary. This useful text and its accompanying CD begins with an explanation of the basic concepts of language and the structure of sign language, since sign variation abides by the rules governing all human languages. Each part of the text concludes with questions for discussion, and the final section offers three supplemental readings that provide further information on variation in both spoken and signed languages. What’s Your Sign for PIZZA? also briefly sketches the development of ASL, which explains the relationships between language varieties throughout the country.