Kyra Pollitt


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  • Title comes from comment in doctoral students room from a peer who imagined that the work I was doing- involving two computers, a video camera and a hovering technician seemed so time and labour intensive that it must be data analysis. In fact I was simply preparing a consent form for my ‘participants’ (prefer co-researchers) in my study..
  • Briefly explain Monty Python title (large portions, indigestible first slide, hope you don’t explode) Start large, work down to the wafer-thin, easily digested (?) mint..
  • But there is also something more important and fundamental to deal with….(next slide)
  • HERE’S WHERE IT DOES START TO GET DIFFERENT Two tribes Use the visual to navigate the world- Padden and Humphries story of doorbell Science Daily (given in refs slide at end) Value the visual- historically face-to-face communication, now video or other visual communication. Have a language based on the visual- Door opening example of grammatical structure
  • Not an attack on any individual institution or personnel. Outside of arts and media departments, this is fairly common. It’s symptomatic of the fact that University’s reflect the dominant (academic) culture: writing-orientated, relegating the visual to the role of augmentative.
  • (3) SOCIAL MEDIA is an important tool for communicating with BSL co-researchers (Skype video), collecting and posting data (SKYPE, YouTube, Facebook), keeping the community informed and on-board (YouTube, Sign Tube). Some of these are blocked by university systems (eg. Skype video). Others have limited capacities OVERNIGHT CACHE: video files are large and the system is primed to delete these files from the computer every 24 hours. Saving to disk requires access to a non-student computer (one with a R/W drive) and requires additional time to reload the data to any video programme every 24 hours ( real-time upload ). Saving to a data stick does not work. DISCS to store video data must be purchased by the student (i.e. are not available as paper is)
  • Lost count of the times the very friendly IT staff reported that they didn’t know because they hadn’t been trained in that (though sometimes one would have done some editing of their own video material in their own time and offer some advice)
  • And if you think this presentation is really just an excuse for me to grumble about my personal situation…Here’s Frank Bechter explaining why it’s an issues for an entire academic field of folks working with sign languages…
  • Kyra Pollitt

    1. 1. “NO, THIS ISN’T THE DATAANALYSIS; THIS IS JUST THECONSENT FORM….”Researching in two languages and two modalitiesKyra Pollitt, University of Bristol
    2. 2. A little wafer-thin (after dinner)mint… British Sign Language  English NOT English  NOT a powerless NOT universal language NOT an invented code  IS globally recognised IS a natural language  HAS a globally DOES reflect a culture dominant orthographic form IS a minority language DOES NOT have an orthographic form
    3. 3. Two languages, many issues….BSL English Powerless  Powerful Disabled  Normal Little linguistic  Globally recognised recognition  Large (printed) archive No recorded canon
    4. 4. Culture revisited: biological differenceDeaf people Hearing people Are people of the eye  Are people of the ear Use the visual to navigate the world  Have a writing system Scientifically proven to that reflects sound- have biologically based communication greater visual prowess  Use and value the Value the visual Have a language based visual less on the visual
    5. 5. So how does this impact onresearching multilingually?Introducing a case study
    6. 6. My Doctoral research Involves a growing number of co-researchers (‘participants’) Some BSL, some English Some have access to both languages, many only to one Required to communicate, possibly collaborate
    7. 7. Designing a consent form That meets the requirements of the University’s ethics committee (i.e. a written, archivable version that can carry a signature) That is available in BSL That directly ties the BSL and the written versions together so that BSL users can orientate through the form (and exercise the right to opt out of certain clauses)
    8. 8. Shot of section of written consent formShowing image orientation
    9. 9. This would have been a screen shot of the DVD….…but the student computers don’t feature snipping tools, Windows Picture facilitiesor other image cropping software.
    10. 10. So what are the issues?Practising multimodality in the academicinstitution
    11. 11. The resources: the hardwareA beautifully equipped doctoral study space, where the computers are loaded with the necessary(though not always the most up-to-date) word- based software, and printing facilities and paperare freely available. Only one of these computers currently has a R/W DVD drive.
    12. 12. The resources: the hardwareHere is the shiny new, Mac filled edit suite that is kept under lock and key. It’s availablefor researchers and staff but the IT support team haven’t been trained in image/ videoso no support to operate it is available.
    13. 13. The resources: the hardware Tape-based video camera No new tapes available No studio/ filming facility Real time transfer of taped data Issues of electronic storage
    14. 14. The resources: the software The version of PowerPoint available through the University does not cater for embedded video, so you can’t see much of the data for this talk! University systems often block social networking and social media sites (high skin pixel count) because of old-fashioned suspicions about their use Updating video software packages is not given equal priority by University IT services = old packages (no BITC, inset etc) My University’s system clears video files from it’s memory cache every 24 hours, so video files cannot be saved overnight And…
    15. 15. The resources: the support Accessing IT staff becomes a necessary part of practice only because the hardware systems are not geared to independent work Accessing IT staff is time-consuming (they are understandably a very busy service) and is not instantaneous so needs to be carefully scheduled IT support staff do not routinely receive training in video/ image - based software packages DVDs must be provided by the student (unless the IT person is prepared to turn a blind eye)
    16. 16. And it’s not just me….. "In a field such as African American Studies or Womens Studies, for example, no one need worry that there will be a publisher and significant readership for Toni Morrisons next novel. Neither do these fields need to worry about translating such work. Nor, certainly, is there the least concern that the technology required for rendering Morrisons work in an accessible and enjoyable form might not yet even exist. The entire development of Western discursive technologies and post-civil rights consumer capitalism supports the funding, and ready and inexpensive distribution of Morrisons work, as well as any critical publications concerning it, mainstream or scholarly. Professors in these fields need only put in orders at campus bookstores and all will follow. Deaf Studies cannot rely on any of the above. It must pull itself up by the bootstraps.” Frank Bechter (in Bauman 2008)The Deaf Convert Culture and Its Lessons for Deaf Theory pp.60-79
    17. 17. So here’s to a digital future……when academia has caught up with social mediaand the age of the image……and multimodality can take its place alongsidemultilingualism 
    18. 18. References /useful sources Padden, Carol and Tom Humphries (1988) Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture (Cambridge, Mass. and London, England: Harvard University Press):21 Retina Holds the Key to Better Vision in Deaf People Frank Bechter The Deaf Convert Culture and Its Lessons for Deaf Theory in Bauman, H-Dirksen L. ,ed., (2008) Open Your Eyes: Deaf Studies Talking (Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press) pp.60-79 TREAT YOURSELF to some BSL poetry at
    19. 19. kyrapollitt@gmail.comwww.nanafroufrou.wordpress.comPeople of the Eye Collective(LIKE us on Facebook)