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Mr Paul Anthony Michaels

Postgraduate Research Student

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Postgraduate Research Student in the Department of Sociology  


Paul started to learn sign language in 2001 after his niece was diagnosed as profoundly Deaf. 4 years later, he decided to focus on training to become a sign language interpreter by first working as a Communicator in education and the workplace. During that time, he completed the Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced BSL and Related Studies and Postgraduate Diploma in Interpreting with the Deaf Community at Durham University, where he gained a distinction. He then completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Interpreting and Translation with the University of Central Lancashire and is now a qualified interpreter.

It was whilst undertaking the Postgraduate Certificate at Durham University that Paul became interested in the linguistics of Gay Sign Variation (GSV) and undertook a research project drawing on resources from the UK and USA. Following on from that, he developed international research on interpreting for the Deaf gay community from the interpreter and client perspective, which has been presented at conferences in Great Britain, South Africa, Italy, Holland, Canada and Poland.

Paul completed a Masters Degree by Research under the supervision of the late Judith Tate-Collins and Dr Federico Ferderici at Durham University. The research topic examined at the identity, culture and language of the Deaf gay male community in Britain. This has led to his current doctoral research.


Field of Study

'The motivations for men to become Sign Language interpreters and their experience within the profession’.


Sign Language interpreting (SLI) in many countries is a predominantly female profession. In 1980 and 1988, surveys of attendees at US interpreting conferences recorded female attendees at 76 and 78.6 percent respectively. The Association of Sign Language Interpreters in England and Wales Fees and Salaries Report showed 82 and 84 percent of respondents in 2008 and 2011 respectively, were female. An international survey of interpreters I conducted in 2009 found 72 percent of respondents were female.


Evidence to suggest why is rare but it is proposed that female interpreters are biologically predisposed to the complex task of interpreting and that it is a helping profession which are traditionally carried out by women. (Humphrey and Alcorn, 1994)



There are many studies into men in predominantly female professions (e.g. Lemkau 1984, Williams 1992, Bagilhole & Cross 2006 and Simpson 2009) but none for the SLI profession, so this research aims to fill the gap in knowledge and assist in the profiling of potential newcomers into the profession.



  • Pinpoint the reasons for the motivations of men to become a Sign Language interpreter and compare these with other predominantly female professions.
  • Highlight the experiences of men in Sign Language interpreting and comepare these with other predominantly female professions.
  • Establish what implications the findings have for our understanding of gender in the workplace, men and masculinities as well as environment and person fit.


Scope & Methodology

The study will focus on the SLI's within the UK who are registered with the three main regulatory bodies:




Data collected will be qualitative through semi-structured one-to-one interviews and a closed group on Facebook. Secondary data will be collected from research previously published, conference and seminar papers, statistical resources, magazines, newspapers and journals.

Research interests

  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Gay sign and gay spoken language varieties
  • Men & Masculinities
  • Neuro Linguistic Programming
  • Professional supervision
  • Sign language interpreting for the Deaf community and specifically the Deaf gay community
  • Sign languages
  • Sociology of Work
  • The Deaf and the gay communities and their culture