Laura Sadlier was a much more to her family, friends and colleagues than a part-time lecturer in Deaf Studies, ISL/English interpreter extraordinaire and PhD student. She was a breath of fresh air. She was a lady, in the old fashioned sense of the word. She was gentle and kind – queen of the little kindnesses like leaving a slice of carrot cake on a colleague’s desk so they had something sweet to come back to after class, or a card to say how great it was to work with you, or a box of tea or a necklace to celebrate some little victory – or just to celebrate life.
She was fantastic with students – an eternal student herself, she was constantly living the process of learning, and, as someone who suffered more than her fair share of life’s trials and tribulations, appreciated the fact that life just gets in the way of best laid plans sometimes, although she always looked for a way to work around life’s obstacles.
Laura was funny and witty with an ironic twist, but never acerbic. She loved language. She loved interpreting. She loved linguistics. Laura came to the Centre for Deaf Studies at Trinity College Dublin as a student on the Diploma in Deaf Studies with just a basic knowledge of Irish Sign Language. She made tremendous progress to the point that she was someone that Deaf colleagues talked about as a potential interpreter. She took the plunge and switched courses, completing the Diploma in ISL/English Interpreting with great aplomb. She already held a first class degree in English, and undertook a Masters in Applied Linguistics with gusto. Her dissertation focused on the assessment of student signed language interpreters, one of the first to look at this topic and the issue of assessment was one that she had a real desire to pursue, bringing her in contact with the European Association for Language Testing and Assessment (EALTA) and opening up a pathway for collaboration with Dutch colleagues, Prof. Beppie Van Den Bogaerde and Joni Oyserman. Over the process of the M.Phil. programme, she became interested in the potential of the Common European Framework of Reference for Language, and working alongside colleagues at the Centre for Deaf Studies and the Centre for Language and Communication Studies at Trinity College Dublin, Laura contributed to the mapping of signed language curricula to the CEFR, particularly with respect to work on the D-Signs project, a Leonardo da Vinci funded programme led by Bristol University (UK). She was also central to the development of CISLI, the Council of Irish Sign Language Interpreters, launched in late 2010.
Laura loved people. And people loved her too. She exuded excellence, and was so unassuming about her skills and knowledge. She assumed that if she could do it, then of course so could anyone else. This fed into her teaching strategy and spilled over into her attitude to the world at large. Everything was possible. The fact that she was taken from us so suddenly at just 34 years of age has left us bereft. W.H. Auden’s famous poem, “Funeral Blues” captures what many of us are feeling: “The stars are not wanted now; put out every one, Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.” Laura’s family, friends, colleagues, students and the international community of linguists have lost a shining light.
By Lorraine Leeson and colleagues (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland)