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Professor Lorraine Leeson

Professor in Deaf Studies (C.L.C.S.)


Professor in Deaf Studies (Centre for Deaf Studies)

Lorraine Leeson is Professor in Deaf Studies at the Centre for Deaf Studies, and Associate Vice Provost for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (2021-). She previously served as Associate Dean of Research (2018-2021). Her research work is multidisciplinary in nature, influenced by her background in Deaf Studies, Gender Studies and Linguistics. She has published widely on aspects of the linguistics and applied linguistics of signed languages with a specific interest in Irish Sign Language and in the area of sign language interpreting. Her doctoral work was the first to examine aspects of the morphosyntax of Irish Sign Language, and subsequent to this, she has published and lectured widely on aspects of the grammar of Irish Sign Language, and in the area of signed language/spoken language interpreting. Lorraine was a member of the first cohort of professionally trained Irish Sign Language/English interpreters in Ireland, and she continues to interpret occasionally. She has engaged in pan-European research work with academic institutions, Deaf communities and interpreting organisations for over two decades. Recent projects include: - Promoting Excellence in Sign Language Instruction (funded by the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) 2015-18. See:, - the DESIGNS project, which focused on Deaf peoples' access to employment (Erasmus+). See: - the European Commission funded Justisigns Project (access to justice across several EU member states) (completed 2016), which examined deaf peoples' access to police services, and which was awarded a European Language Label Award in 2017. Lorraine also led the PRO-Signs (funded by the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML)) which looked at the teaching, learning and assessment of signed languages for professional purposes with collaboration from over 30 countries across Europe. See: (Completed 2015). She is currently working on a number of projects including: * Justisigns 2, a European Commission funded project that seeks to improve access to services for deaf, migrant and refugee women who experience gender based violence. (2020-2022) * SignON, a Horizon 2020 funded project that seeks to develop the quality of machine translation for sign language (MTSL), driven by a co-creation methodology that places deaf community engagement as central to the project's goals. As part of this project, Rachel Moiselle is working on a PhD project on depiction in Irish Sign Language. This project work is managed via the ADAPT SFI Centre. (2021-2024) * TORCH - Towards Open Responsible Research and Innovation through CHARM-EU is a Horizon 2020 SwafS support action funded project that seeks to develop the research framework for the CHARM-EU European University Alliance. Cross cutting focal points of this project are Open Science (Open Scholarship), Research Integrity, and the fostering of transdisciplinary and intercultural work.(2021-2024) Recent publications include "Sign Language in Action" with Jemina Napier (2016), "Interpreting and the Politics of Recognition", co-edited with Christopher Stone (2018), and, most recently, a special issue of the journal, Teanga, on Irish Sign Language (2020).
  Bilingual/Bicultural Education   cognitive linguistics   Deaf Studies   E-Learning   interpreting studies   Irish Sign Language   Language acquisition   Language Policy   modality and language   Morpho-syntax of signed languages   Signed Languages
 DeafSign: Unlocking Educational Opportunities in Sign Languages for Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing and Heritage Signers in Europe
 SIGN - making maternity experiences positive for deaf women
 TORCH -Transforming Open Responsible Research and Innovation through CHARM
 Deaf Interpreter Training Programme
 Silent Harm: Empowering Deaf Women Surviving Domestic Violence Post-Covid in Rural Areas.

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Details Date
Member of RISLI Registration Panel (Register of Irish Sign Language Interpreters) 2020
European Centre for Modern Languages Expert on Sign Languages 2013-
Member of the Royal Irish Academy Multidisciplinary Committee on Languages, Literature, Culture and Communication 2018-
ARTIS Associate (Advancing Research in Translation and interpreting Studies). 2014-present
Founder Member of the Irish Deaf Research Network (IDRN) 2008- present
Advisor - Deaf Studies Trust, Bristol 2013 - present
Chair of the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters Expert Group 2012-2019
Member of the Trinity Asian Centre for Asian Studies Board 2015-2018
Board Member - Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS) 2011 - 2013
Member of the Royal Irish Academy Modern Languages Committee 2010-2013
Member of the Partnership Group on Deaf Education (CIDP-IDS-DeafHear-Schools for the Deaf-CDS) 2007-2013
Editor of "The Sign Language Translator and Interpreter", St. Jerome Publishing. 2007-2011
Director - Dublin City Radio (DCR) 2008- 2010
Member of the Editorial Board, Deaf Worlds: International Journal of Deaf Studies 2001-2008
Member of the Irish Sign Link ISL/English Acccreditation Review Panel 2004-2006
Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
American Sign Language Medium Medium Medium
British Sign Language Medium Medium Medium
English Fluent Fluent Fluent
French Medium Basic Basic
Irish Basic Basic Basic
Irish Sign Language Fluent Fluent Fluent
Details Date From Date To
Irish Association of Applied Linguistics (IRAAL) 1994 present
International Cognitive Linguistics Association
Irish Association of Sign Language Interpreters (IASLI) (disbanded in 2008) 1993 2008
Irish Translators and Interpreters Association (ITIA)
Conference of Interpreter Trainers (CIT) 2008 present
International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS) 2010 present
European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters 2010 Present
Council of Irish Sign Language Interpreters (CISLI) 2011 Present
International Pragmatics Association 2017 2018
Societas Linguistica Europea 2020 present
Association for Criminal Justice Research & Development (ACJRD) 2016 present
International Society for Gesture Studies (ISGS) 2014
Andy Way, Lorraine Leeson and Dimitar Shterionov (eds.), Sign Language and Machine Translation, Cham, Switzerland, Springer Nature, 2024, Book, IN_PRESS  URL
McIlrath, Lorraine, Marie Connolly, Helen Maher and Lorraine Leeson, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education in Ireland., First, London, Palgrave McMillan, 2024, Book, ACCEPTED  URL
Sign Languages in Britain and Ireland in, editor(s)TBC , Language in the British Isles, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2024, [Schembri, Adam; Rowley, Kate; Leeson, Lorraine], Book Chapter, IN_PRESS  TARA - Full Text
How it Started and How it's Going: Sign-Language Machine Translation and Engagement with Deaf Communities over the past 25 years. in, editor(s)Andy Way Lorraine Leeson Dimitar Shterionov , Sign Language Machine Translation, Cham, Switzerland, Springer, 2024, [Leeson, L., Morissey, S., Stein, D., Shterionov, D., Van den Heuvel, H. & A. Way], Book Chapter, IN_PRESS  URL
Sign Language Interpreting in Ireland in, editor(s)Stacey Webb, Jemina Napier, and Robert Adam , Sign language translation and interpreting education two decades on, Washington DC, Gallaudet University Press, 2024, [Sarah Sheridan, Teresa Lynch, and Lorraine Leeson], Book Chapter, IN_PRESS  TARA - Full Text
The Pipeline of Machine Translation in, editor(s)Dimitar Shterionov Andy Way Lorraine Leeson , Sign Language Machine Translation, Cham, Switzerland, Springer, 2024, [Shterionov, Dimitar, Lorraine Leeson and Andy Way], Book Chapter, IN_PRESS  URL  URL
Transforming the EDI Agenda: Including Disability as an Intersectional Consideration in, editor(s)McIlrath, Lorraine, Marie Connolly, Helen Maher and Lorraine Leeson , Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education in Ireland., London, Palgrave McMillan, 2024, [1. Rath, Vivian, Patricia McCarthy, David Loughrey and Lorraine Leeson], Book Chapter, ACCEPTED
Cabeza-Pereiro, Carmen; Casado-Neira; David, Conway, Brian; Clark, Lucy; Del-Pozo-Trivinõ, Maribel; Flanagan, John; Freir, Caitriona; Garahan, Lucy; Leeson, Lorraine; Longa-Alsono, Beatriz; Napier, Jemina; O"Dowd, Leonie; Pérez-Freire, Silvia; Quigley, Lianne; and Sheikh, Haaris, Silent Harm: A training manual for service providers and interpreters who work with deaf, refugee, and migrant women and girls who have experienced gender-based violence, 1, Dublin, Interesource Group Ireland Limited, 2023, Book, PUBLISHED  URL
What I know is here; what I don't know is somewhere else: Deixis and gesture spaces in American Sign Language and Irish Sign Language in, editor(s)Terry Janzen and Barbara Shaffer , Signed Language and Gesture Research in Cognitive Linguistics , Berlin, De Gruyter, 2023, pp211 - 242, [Terry Janzen, Lorraine Leeson and Barbara Shaffer], Book Chapter, PUBLISHED  URL
Ireland's Third Language: Irish Sign Language in, editor(s)Raymond Hickey , The Oxford Handbook of Irish-English, London, Oxford University Press, 2023, pp648 - 674, [Susanne Mohr and Lorraine Leeson], Book Chapter, PUBLISHED

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Myriam Vermeerbergen and Lorraine Leeson , Introducing signed languages: simultaneity, multimodality & other characteristics, SignON Consortium Internal Symposium, Online , 28 March , 2022, Lien Soetemans, Invited Talk, PRESENTED
Interview with Ciara Plunkett 14 January 2021, 'Kildare Focus', KFM Radio, 2021, -, Broadcast, PUBLISHED
Lorraine Leeson, 'How sign language interpreters tell the story of what's going on', RTE Brainstorm, 13 January 2021,, RTE , 2021, -, Broadcast, PUBLISHED
Lorraine Leeson, Variation in Irish Sign Language, Variation in Irish Sign Language, University of Manitoba , 25 February 2021, 2021, Terry Janzen, Invited Talk, PRESENTED
Aoife King (ed), Rita Duffy, Caitríona Lally, Jacob J. Erickson, Donna Lyons et al., What the Pandemic Means: Perspectives from the Trinity Long Room Hub Covid-19 Blog Collection, 2021, - 1-56, Notes: [Artwork: Rita Duffy], Miscellaneous, PUBLISHED
Nina Shiel and Lorraine Leeson, Towards an Integrated Approach to RRI: Lessons from Interdisciplinarity, LERU-CE7 Research Ethics Online Seminar, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University , 22 April 2021, 2021, Oral Presentation, PRESENTED
Jennifer Daly and Lorraine Leeson, 'What do you want to know.... about sign languages?', What do you want to know about?, Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, 2020, -, Broadcast, PUBLISHED
Lorraine Leeson and Carmel Grehan, The Common European Framework of Reference and Signed Language Curricula, ISL Academy Workshop, Deaf Village Ireland, Dublin, 27 January 2018, 2018, Irish Sign Language Academy, Invited Talk, PRESENTED
Lorraine Leeson, Haaris Sheikh and Council for Irish Sign Language Interpreters, Interpreting in Workplace Settings, 22 April 2018, In:Interpreting in Workplace Settings, 2018, Centre for Deaf Studies, Trinity College Dublin, Meetings /Conferences Organised, PRESENTED
Carmel Grehan and Lorraine Leeson, European Language Portfolio for Sign Languages (ELP-SL), ISL Academy Workshop, Deaf Village Ireland , 16 June 2018, 2018, Oral Presentation, PRESENTED


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Award Date
NRB Scholarship 1996
British Academy Fellowship 2004
European Commission Language Ambassador of the Year Award 2009
Fellowship, TCD 2009
M.A. (J.O.) TCD 2011
European Language Label Award for Medisigns Project (LLP/LdV/TOI/2010/IRL-511) 2013
Conferred with Honorary Membership of the Irish Translators' and Interpreters' Association 2014
Patron - Irish Deaf Women's Group October 2015
Nominated for Provost's Global Award 2014-15
Kerry Deaf Resource Centre Outstanding Contribution Award 2016
European Language Label Award for Justisigns Project 2017
Trinity College Dublin Innovation Award - Consultancy 2021
Presentation from An Garda Síochána in recognition of collaborative engagement April 2022
Research Excellence Award - 'Putting Research at the Heart of Trinity' category 2023
Science Foundation Ireland Engaged Research Award (SignON project) 2023
Honorary Professor - Heriot Watt University School of Social Sciences 2017
European Language Label Award for Justisigns Project 2017
TCD Research Innovation Award - Consultancy 2021
An Garda Síochána Award in recognition of contributions to their Human Rights Champions Programme/working in collaboration with An Garda Síochána to increase accessibility to police services for deaf signers. 2022
Led submission for successful European Commission Sustainable Gender Equality Award for Trinity College Dublin 2023
Led submission for successful Institutional Silver Athena Swan Award for Trinity College Dublin 2023
Trinity College Dublin Research Excellence Award - "Putting Research at the Heart of Trinity" 2023
Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Engaged Research Award for SignON project 2023
SignON project shortlisted for TechExcellence Awards in three categories - Tech Excellence Award; Digital Transformation Award; and Analytics Institute awards 2024
My research spans three domains: (1) linguistics & applied linguistics of sign languages (SLs), (2) interpreting studies (IS), & (3) trans-disciplinary work that impacts on deaf studies topics. As a student, I found just one paper published on Irish Sign Language (ISL) & very little empirical work on SLI or sign language teaching and learning (SLT&L). Across my career, I have focused on changing this by promoting a culture of empirical research, by documenting aspects of ISL, & aspects of interpretation. I am particularly adept at navigating the space between linguistic research and applied practices. At Trinity, I have led the development of a cohort of researchers working on ISL using Grounded Theory (GT) methodologies. My linguistics work includes analyses of the morpho-syntax & semantics of ISL, & sociolinguistic issues associated with ISL use. Cognitive linguistics work has focused on the role of gesture, the role of metaphor & metonymy in ISL, & simultaneity in SLs. Much of my data comes from the "Signs of Ireland" corpus, which I spearheaded in 2004. This has facilitated significant description of aspects of ISL by myself and others. My IS research explores provision of interpreters in a range of domains. One current project marries work from cognitive linguistics, gesture studies and IS (with Terry Janzen and Barbara Shaffer), investigating how simultaneous interpreters of spoken & signed languages conceptualise events. Another considers interpreting in settings where gender based violence is addressed (Justisigns 2). I have also developed a GT of interpreting interaction, "Effortful Engagement", which has fed into analysis of interpreting in a range of settings. It is the first to consider the work required of all stakeholders in interpreted interaction (most look only at the cognitive efforts of the interpreter). I have been invited to present on this work around the world, presenting keynote addresses in Brazil, the USA, Australia & New Zealand. My applied linguistics work includes significant engagement at European level. I am a European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML)/Council of Europe (COE) expert on SLs. I have examined aspects of the teaching, learning and assessment of SLs for professional purposes (PRO-Sign 1 & 2). This work underpinned a critical body of cross-European empirical applied sign linguistics research, led to a series of international conferences, & to the addition of SLs as a focus for the ECML in their work. I served as a consultant to the COE on the development of the modality inclusive Common European Framework of Reference for Languages - Companion Volume (CEFR-CV) (2020), which, for the first time, presents descriptors of competence for both spoken and signed languages. This segues with research around SL policy in Europe, theorising around how adult learners of SL navigate the process, and how SL teachers respond to their learners. In 2013, I spearheaded the development of a corpus of adult second language, second modality (M2L2) ISL learners. This is one of the first such corpora in the world, and was built as a parallel corpus (Swedish Sign Language is the other language) with colleagues from Stockholm University. Nationally, my work has fed into the conversation around the legal status of ISL (ISL Act 2017), the development of a register for ISL SLIs and research led curricula. At European level, my work has directly influenced the establishment of core competencies for SLIs & SL teachers, & the development of a modality inclusive CEFR. As a result of this work, I am frequently invited to advise NGOs, universities and governmental bodies at home and around the world on issues relating to my domains of expertise.