TRAINING THE FIELDWORK TEAM
Florjan Rojba, Executive Director, Albanian National Association of the Deaf, ANAD
We translated the 48 questions included in the question set into Albanian sign language, after which they were recorded on video. I was responsible for training a team of nine people (five men and four women representing different ages), who would carry out the fieldwork. They learned the questions in sign language off by heart and memorised each corresponding piece of text in written Albanian visually.
As the representative of ANAD I prepared a five-minute video presentation in sign language to be used for data collection, in which I described the survey and how the information collected by the survey was important in promoting the interests of the deaf: we needed examples of the barriers that the deaf people interviewed face in their everyday lives and which we strived to remove on our part through the advocacy efforts of the ANAD.
During the fieldwork team training, we carefully went through the survey questions along with the aims of the survey, both displayed on video screen in Albanian sign language. We also reflected on factors that are culturally sensitive in Albania. For example, the interviewer should preferably be of the same gender and age group as the interviewee, so that the interviewer can cover age or gender-sensitive topics in-depth, and the interaction can be as smooth as possible. We also rehearsed the fieldwork in practical situations and discussed how to open the interviews, for example that the interviewer should not begin asking the questions until each participant had seen the video presentation in Albanian Sign Language which I had prepared. After seeing the video, the respondent could then decide whether they wanted to participate in the survey or not.
We also practised meeting people from different linguistic backgrounds: how to explain the survey’s aims to those who do not know sign language but use fingerspelling only, or to people whose sole methods of communication are pointing and gesticulating, for example? They should also receive an unambigious account of the aims of the survey, even if they were unable to understand the video presentation in Albanian sign language.
The survey would be conducted in pairs, so that one of the interviewers would write down their answers and the other one would ask the questions. The questions were to be asked in the given order without any changes to the content. The other member of the team could then provide support in case anything was forgotten and help with any problems, for example entering the answers correctly. Pair work was important in many respects.