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Breaking news: Sign language interpreters on television during natural disasters

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Flood, cyclone and earthquake disasters in Australia and New Zealand in 2011 brought sign language interpreters into the media spotlight in these countries. Their inclusion in television broadcasts to communicate emergency-related information was unprecedented in both countries, and attracted strong responses from Deaf viewers and the general public. Drawing on retrospective interviews with two New Zealand interpreters and one Australian interpreter, this report explains how interpreters came to be included in the broadcasts, and identifies the specific demands they encountered when working in the context of a civil emergency. Impacts of, and responses to, the interpreted coverage are also noted.
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Keywords: accessible emergency broadcasts; natural disaster; sign language interpreting; television

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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  • International Journal of Research and Practice in Interpreting
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