Ghostwriting: Deaf translators within the Deaf community

Robert Adam, Breda Carty, Christopher Stone*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Sign language interpreting has taken place for hundreds of years, often performed by family members or non-Deaf people with other professional relationships to Deaf people, such as teachers or welfare workers (Ozolins and Bridge 1999; Stone and Woll 2008). Interpreting as a profession emerged during the last few decades of the 20th Century (Napier, McKee and Goswell, 2006), and the most recent development in the profession is the recognition of Deaf people as interpreters - variously called 'Deaf Relay Interpreters' or 'Deaf interpreters'. It could be argued that this recently recognised role is one that Deaf people have fulfilled as long as there have been signing Deaf communities. Although it is common to see professional (non-Deaf) interpreters operate between signed and spoken languages, it is less well known that Deaf people also function as language brokers for each other in a wide range of situations. Stone (2009) has described how translation norms are developed by experienced Deaf translators/interpreters; these people have sometimes been called 'Ghost writers' in the Australian Deaf community. These 'Ghost writers' describe the development of their translation skills through other role-models within Deaf social networks, or social clubs called 'Deaf clubs'. The current study seeks to describe examples of Deaf people in the Australian and British Deaf communities working as language brokers, translators and interpreters, in written English, Auslan (the majority signed language of Australia), British Sign Language (BSL) and Australian Irish Sign Language (AISL).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-393
Number of pages19
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • British (BSL) and Australian Irish (AISL) sign languages
  • Deaf ghostwriters
  • Signed language


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