Sammendrag avhandling Haualand
Ved å sammenlikne en tilsynelatende lik oversettertjeneste mellom tegnspråk og talespråk som formidles av tolker via bildetelefoner og "vanlige" telefoner i tre forskjellige land, viser denne avhandlingen at det ikke er uvesentlig hvordan tjenesten er organisert, hvordan den defineres og hvem som har ansvar for den.
Avhandlingen, som er en antropologisk sammenliknende studie av samspillet mellom teknologi og politikk i en såkalt hjemlig kontekst, viser at samtlige innbyggere er dypt avhengige av velfungerende teknologiformidling. Ved å organisere visse teknologibaserte tjenester på utsiden av de ordinære formidlingskanalene (slik bildetolktjenesten er organisert i Norge) bidrar dette til en sementering av forståelsen av at funksjonshemmede har spesielle behov, og opprettholder en mental ekskludering av de samme gruppene.
I USA er bildetolktjenesten definert som en telekommunikasjonstjeneste som skal sikre alle innbyggerne likeverdige teletjenester. I Sverige er målet for tjenesten å sikre økt tilgjengelighet i samfunnet ved hjelp av telekommunikasjonsteknologi. I Norge forstås og organiseres tjenesten som en utvidelse av den ordinære tegnspråktolk-tjenesten hos NAV, og telekommunikasjonsaspektet er fraværende selv om langt de fleste oppdragene er oversettelse av telefonsamtaler.
Som en konsekvens av disse ulike måtene å organisere tjenesten, ser man at brukerne inkluderes i ulik grad. I USA blir de døve brukerne behandlet som forbrukere med klare rettigheter til telekommunikasjonstjenester døgnet rundt. Som en kontrast til dette er den norske organiseringen konsentrert rundt formidling av tolketjenester, og de døve brukerne er ikke sikret tilgang til telekommunikasjonstjenester på lik linje med resten av befolkningen.
Interpreted Ideals and Relayed Rights – A comparative study of video interpreting services in Norway, Sweden and the US.
This dissertation is the result of a comparative study of video interpreting services in the US, Sweden and Norway. The video interpreting service, which primarily is targeted at people who use sign language in three countries, appears the same in the moment it is performed, but serves widely different political goals. By exploring the interplay between disability rights, political ideals and technical and organizational solutions (based on a multisited fieldwork in the three countries), the dissertation shows that a service that appears the same across different countries, may distribute widely different rights, opportunities and roles to the involved actors. The analysis is based on multisited fieldwork in the three countries from 2006-2010, and the research material includes interviews with a wide range of actors involved in providing, using and regulating the services, public documents (on paper and online) and notes from participant observation. The dissertation contains three articles (“Interpreted Ideals and Relayed Rights” (published in Disability Studies Quarterly, 2011), “Calls for Inclusion or Redialing Exclusion” (Accepted for publishing in Ethnos), “Scripts of Video Interpreting” (in process of submission), and a theoretical and methodological discussion framing the analysis in the articles.
In the article “Interpreted Ideals and Relayed Rights”, the politically defined goals of the services are discussed. In the US, video interpreting is defined as a telecommunication service to secure functional equivalence for all. In Sweden the goal is to secure access to telecommunication services for disabled people. In Norway, video interpreting is defined and organized as an extension of the public sign language interpreter service. The article gives insight in how ideology and politics shape organization of a certain technology or service and impact the very scope and benefit of the technology itself. Further, the paper shows how the emerging video interpreting services are interpreted in light of the existing political ideals in each of the three countries, and how the services gradually also relay a certain set of rights through how they are organised.
“Calls for Inclusion or Redialing Exclusion” discusses how the multiple definitions and ways of organising videophones within three sociotechnical systems mediate agency towards a group of people that traditionally is viewed as disabled, and the resulting implications for inclusion and accessibility. The concept of agency is inspired by how it is used by Actor-Network Theory scholars. Agency is not viewed as an internal or intrinsic ability in an individual, but as the result of the continuous interaction between humans and non-humans in networks. Hence, agency is mediated and distributed along paths in an entangled system of actors. The article concludes that if the technology and related service is organised external to the system it is intended to give access to, material exclusion mechanisms are reinforced or remain unchanged. In contrast, organisation of the technology and service within an existing sociotechnical system places the users in a more equal position relative to others. The core thesis is that the greater the integration of systems of heterogeneous actors, the greater the flow of agency and the less disabled – or different – the actors become.
The last article, “Scripts of Video Interpreting” shows how the video interpreting services in the US, Sweden and Norway are more than mere intermediaries for communication between deaf and hearing people via a videophone and a sign language interpreter, where the input and the output are the same regardless of political or legal organisation. Videophones and video interpreting services do not only enable flows of communication. As technical and political objects, they also contain, produce and distribute certain sets of roles, responsibilities and relationships to those who use them. These roles are however not new, since they did not come with the videophones, but were stabilised and reconfirmed. The conclusion suggests that different roles are performed by the deaf actors involved when they use video interpreting services in the US, Sweden and Norway, despite the similarity in their experience of flow, ease and blending in with videophones and the related services.
In the concluding discussion, it is argued that there is a need for more anthropological comparative studies of modern (welfare) states and their services. Services, provisions and regulatory mechanisms may resemble each other across different nation states and political systems, but the comparative study of one particular service (the video interpreting service) reveals that what may seem similar, serve widely different goals and provide different opportunities and roles to the involved actors. Comparative anthropological studies should hence provide an important supplement to the industry of transnational comparative studies primarily conducted by other social science disciplines.