Jemina Napier

Deputy of School and Head of Languages and Intercultural Studies

+44 (0)131 451 4104
Room 2.05
Henry Prais Building
Heriot-Watt University
Roles and responsibilities

Chair of Intercultural Communication


Jemina's research interests and expertise focus around three strands of intercultural communication: (1) language and communication in the context of interpreter-mediated communication – primarily with signed language interpreters and the Deaf community. Adopting sociolinguistic, discourse analytic and sociological explorations of signed language interpretation in context (particularly education, legal and medical) to inform the wider field of interpreting studies, applied linguistics and intercultural communication; (2) how deaf adults actually use signed language to communicate in their lives in terms of bilingualism, language contact and identity; and (3) translation and interpreting pedagogy, using action research to explore aspects of distance education, blended learning, curriculum innovation and discourse-based teaching practices. I have taught, researched and published in all of these areas.

Jemina is particularly interested in working with other researchers involved in intercultural communication research to explore how minority language users (of spoken and signed languages), experience the world and interact with people from other cultures, especially in various professional contexts, with a view to informing the policy, pedagogy, and practice of language professionals.

From 2008-2012 she was Director of the Centre for Translation and Interpreting Research at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia; and has managed several externally funded, industry-partnered, research projects, some of which were funded by the Australian Research Council. She is Editor of the International Journal of Interpreter Education and serves on several journal editorial boards, and advisory groups.

Current research

  • Language brokering in the Deaf community (in collaboration with Coda Australia, the Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association and Deaf Australia).  
  • Participation in the administration of justice: Deaf citizens as jurors (funded by the Australian Research Council in partnership with Deaf Australia, the Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association and the Australian Federation of Deaf Societies); with Prof Sandra Hale (University of New South Wales) and Prof Debra Russell (Alberta).  
  • Optimum settings for best court interpreting practice (funded by the Australian Research Council in partnership with Australian Federation of Deaf Societies, Auslan Services, NSW Department of Justice & Attonery General, and others); with Prof Sandra Hale & A/Prof Ludmila Stern (University of New South Wales), Prof David Tait, A/Prof Uldis Ozolins & Dr Meredith Rossner (University of Western Sydney), & Dr Jane Goodman-Delahunty (Charles Sturt University).

Examples of previous research projects

  • Analyses of interaction in inclusive classrooms (2011-2012) - funded by Macquarie University and the Royal Institute for Deaf & Blind Children, and in partnership with the University of Newcastle; with Prof Greg Leigh, Dr Breda Carty & Della Goswell.  
  • Access to preventative and ongoing healthcare information for deaf Auslan users (2011-2012) – funded by, and in partnership with, the National Auslan Interpreter Booking & Payment Service.  
  • Video remote signed language interpreting in courtrooms (2010-2011) – funded by, and in partnership with, the New South Wales Department of Justice & Attorney General.  
  • Medical Signbank: language planning for medical terminology (2008-2012) – funded by the Australian Research Council in partnership with the National Auslan Interpreter Booking & Payment Service and the New South Wales Multicultural Health Unit; with Prof Trevor Johnston.  
  • Efficacy of signed language interpreting to enable deaf people to serve as jurors (2006-2012) – funded by various Macquarie University grants, and in partnership with, the New South Wales Law Reform Commission; with Prof David Spencer.
Selected publications


  • Napier, J., & Leeson, L. (in preparation). Sign language in action. Palgrave Macmillan.  
  • Hale, S. & Napier, J. (in preparation). Research methods in interpreting. Continuum.  
  • Napier, J. & Roy, C. (in preparation) (Eds.), Signed language interpreting studies reader. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.  
  • Napier, J., & McKee, R., & Goswell, D. (in press). (Sign language interpreting: Theory & practice – Serbian version). Translated and adapted by Desanka Zizic & Vera Jovanovic . Serbia.  
  • Napier, J., & McKee, R., & Goswell, D. (2010). Sign language interpreting: Theory & practice in Australia and New Zealand (2nd Ed.) Sydney: Federation Press.

Book chapters

  • Napier, J. (in press). “You get that vibe”:  A pragmatic analysis of clarification and communicative accommodation in legal video remote interpreting. In Meurant, L., Sinte, A., Van Herreweghe, M. & M. Vermeerbergen (eds.) Sign language research uses and practices: Crossing views on theoretical and applied sign language linguistics. De Gruyter Mouton and Ishara Press.  
  • Napier, J. (2013). Sign language interpreting research. In C. A. Chapelle (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. DOI: 10.1002/9781405198431.wbeal1068.  
  • Napier, J., & Goswell, D. (2013). Sign language interpreting profession. In C. A. Chapelle (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. DOI: 10.1002/9781405198431.wbeal1009.  
  • Napier, J. (2012). Exploring themes in stakeholder perspectives of video remote interpreting in court. In C. J. Kellett (Ed.), Interpreting across genres: Multiple research perspectives (pp.219-254). Trieste: EUT Edizioni Universtà di Trieste.  
  • Major, G., Napier, J., & Stubbe, M. (2012). ‘What happens truly, not text book!’: Using authentic interactions in discourse training for healthcare interpreters. Invited manuscript in K. Malcolm & L. Swabey (Eds.), In our hands: Educating healthcare interpreters. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.  
  • Napier, J. (2011). Here or there? An assessment of video remote signed language interpreter-mediated interaction in court. In Braun, S. & J. L. Taylor (Eds.), Videoconference and remote interpreting in criminal proceedings (pp. 145-185). Guildford: University of Surrey. E-Book. Available:  
  • Napier, J., Major, G., & Ferrara, L. (2011). Medical Signbank: A cure-all for the aches and pains of medical sign language interpreting? In L. Leeson, S. Wurm  & M. Vermeerbergen (Eds.), Signed Language Interpreting: Preparation, practice and performance (pp.110-137). Manchester: St Jerome.
  • Napier, J. (2011). If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a noise? The merits of publishing interpreting research. Solicited manuscript for chapter in B. Nicodemus & L. Swabey (Eds.), Advances in Interpreting Research: Inquiry in Action (pp. 121-152). Philadelphia: John Benjamins.  
  • Napier, J. (2011). Signed language interpreting. In K. Windle & K. Malmkjaer (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Translation Studies (pp.353-372). Oxford: Oxford University Press.  
  • Bontempo, K. & Napier, J. (2009). Getting it right from the start: Program admission testing of signed language interpreters. In C. Angelelli & H. Jacobson (Eds.),Testing and Assessment in Translation and Interpreting (pp.247-295). Philadelphia: John Benjamins.  
  • Napier, J. & Spencer, D. (2008). Guilty or not guilty? An investigation of deaf jurors’ access to court proceedings via sign language interpreting. In D. Russell & S. Hale (Eds.), Interpreting in legal settings (pp.71-122). Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.  
  • Napier, J. (2008). Exploring linguistic & cultural identity: My personal experience. In M. Bishop & S. Hicks (Eds.), Hearing, Mother Father Deaf: Hearing people in Deaf families (pp.219-243). Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.  
  • Napier, J., Carmichael, A., & Wiltshire, A. (2008). Look-Pause-Nod: A linguistic case study of a Deaf professional and interpreters working together. In P. C. Hauser, K. L. Finch, & A. B. Hauser (Eds.), Deaf professionals and designated interpreters: A new paradigm (pp.22-42). Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Peer-reviewed journal articles

  • Wang, J., & Napier, J. (2013) 'Signed language working memory capacity of signed language interpreters and deaf signers' Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, doi:10.1093/deafed/ens068.  
  • Major, G., & Napier, J. (2013). Interpreting and knowledge mediation in the healthcare setting: What do we really mean by ‘accuracy’? Linguistica Antiverpiesa.
  • Napier, J., & Leneham, M. (2011). “It was difficult to manage the communication”: Testing the feasibility of video remote signed language interpreting in courts in NSW, Australia. Journal of Interpretation, pp. 53-62.
  • Bontempo, K., & Napier, J. (2011) 'Emotional stability as a predictor for interpreter competence: A consideration in determining aptitude for interpreting' Interpreting, 13(1), pp. 85-105.
  • Napier, J. (2011). “It's not what they say but the way they say it.” A content analysis of interpreter and consumer perceptions of signed language interpreting in Australia. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 207, pp. 59-87 (Invited to contribute to special issue: Translators and Interpreters: Geographic displacement and Linguistic Consequences).  
  • Napier, J. (2010) 'An historical overview of signed language interpreting research: Featuring highlights of personal research' Cadernos de Tradução, 2(26), pp. 63-97.  
  • Pearce, T., & Napier, J. (2010) 'Mentoring: A vital learning tool for interpreter graduates' International Journal of Interpreter Education, 2, pp. 58-75.  
  • Johnston, T. & Napier, J. (2010) 'Medical Signbank—bringing deaf people and linguists together in the process of language development' Sign Language Studies, 10(2), pp. 258-275.
  • Napier, J. (2010)' A case study of the use of storytelling as a pedagogical tool for teaching interpreting students' The Interpreter & Translator Trainer, 10(1), pp. 1-32.

Jemina Napier is an interpreter researcher, educator and practitioner and has practised as a signed language interpreter since 1988. She grew up in the British Deaf community, and works between English and British Sign Language (BSL), Australian Sign Language (Auslan) or International Sign. After completing an MA in BSL/ English Interpreting at Durham University, Jemina moved to Australia to undertake her PhD studies in 1998. She established the first university industry-accredited training program as a Postgraduate Diploma in Auslan/ English Interpreting in the Department of Linguistics at Macquarie University in Sydney in 2002, held a postdoctoral fellowship at the same university from 2004-2006, and was Head of Translation and Interpreting from 2007-2012. Jemina is a past President, and now an Honorary Life Member, of the Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association (ASLIA). She was an inaugural board member of the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI), and now serves as Co-Leader of the joint WASLI-World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) Task Force on International Sign interpreter training and recruitment. She was one of the founding members of the Australian Interpreter Trainers' Network, and instigated the annual Interpreter Trainers' Workshops (now known as the Interpreter Trainers' Network Symposium). She has delivered interpreter training and assessment to interpreters worldwide, including in Brazil, China, Fiji, Ireland, Kosovo, New Zealand and the United States. Jemina was a member of the Australian industry body – the National Accreditation Authority of Translators & Interpreters (NAATI) – Qualifications and Assessment Advisory Committee and a member (previously co-chair) of the NAATI Auslan Interpreter Examiner Panel.

Jemina returned to the UK in February 2013 to take up the new position of Professor and Chair of Intercultural Communication in the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies.