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Abstract

In multiparty meetings involving deaf and hearing participants, sign language interpreters are tasked to render talk ‘accessible’ to all by mediating differences across languages, modalities, interactional norms, and cultural statuses (Roy, 1989, 1993; Mindess, 1999; Van Herreweghe, 2002). Although this context of work is relatively common for interpreters, their practices and the interactional outcomes for participants are under-researched. This case study compares chairing and meeting practices under a deaf chairperson and a hearing chairperson, respectively. The impact of chairing on interpretability and deaf participation are discussed. An interactional sociolinguistics framework informs analysis of meeting data and retrospective participant interviews. Analysis shows that deaf participation is qualitatively different and experienced as more accessible under the deaf chairperson due to temporal alignment with the deaf chair, reduced conflict between visual inputs, and more confidence to clarify information and bid for turns. Interactional features that limit or enhance deaf participation are worthy of attention by interpreters and regular participants of interpreter-mediated meetings.

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