This research report contains the findings of an international study consisting of three online ‘living’ surveys. The surveys focused on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted sign language interpreters’ working practices, how this was experienced by them, and how digital disruption caused by the pandemic is impacting and innovating the sign language interpreting profession. The study was carried out between April 2020 and July 2020; the largest contingent of respondents over all three surveys were from the U.S., followed by the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland and Belgium.
Respondents commented that the crisis will probably accelerate the need for remote interpreting training in interpreter training programs. Another resurfacing issue was the perceived need for sign language interpreting students to have face-to-face practice and live mentoring. Respondents commented on what benefits they thought remote interpreting might bring to the table, both for themselves and for deaf people. In general, the most significant benefits that were mentioned were flexibility and the possibility to improve efficiency and availability of sign language interpreting services. Notwithstanding these benefits, a significant number of respondents claimed that remote interpreting is more stressful than face-to-face interpreting and requires a heavier cognitive load.