In the face of growing threat to the Sign Language Interpreting profession in the UK and the lack of access Deaf people are experiencing in the light of budget cuts, the BBC’s Deaf community programme, See Hear, has produced a special about Sign Language interpreting. Since 2010 the interpreting profession in the UK has been threatened with changing market forces, BSL agencies being squeezed out of that market and the subsequent loss of expertise. The changes have now filtered through to the rest of the UK with more devastating effects.
The programme features, in no particular order, an interview with me as owner of this blog; Kate Furby, an interpreter based in London; ASLI representatives: National Chair, Sarah Haynes and Working Group Chair, Bibi Lacey-Davidson; Paul Parsons from the NRCPD explaining interpreter registration and the complaints process; interpreting students from Wolverhampton University who are concerned about rising debts and whether they will be able to find work once they graduate; Terry Riley who is Chair of the British Deaf Association and feedback directly from the Deaf community talking about what they require from interpreters and their views on standards of interpreters.
Much of the focus is on a decrease in the standards of interpreters, the effect of one stop shop contracts with spoken language agencies and how community interpreting and Deaf access is in jeopardy by agencies’ use of unregistered, untrained signers.
The programme was first aired on Wednesday 23rd May on BBC2 at 1pm. It is available on the BBC’s iplayer until the 27th June 2012: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01j8chn/See_Hear_Series_32_Episode_8/
If you have any comments about the programme that you would like to share here please leave a comment on this blogpost. The effects of outsourcing have been affecting Deaf people’s access for over two years and interpreters are starting to leave the profession as some can not earn an income. The subsequent affects could make access even less likely. This is certainly an issue we all need to talk about more.
Following on from the back of hard work done by ASLI‘s Professional & Consumers Working Group, more organisations have joined in to create a campaign: BSMHD, BDA, Action on Hearing Loss, Sign Health and Signature.
There is a survey for BSL users on their access to health care (deadline 20th April): http://www.surveymonkey.com/BSLHealthcareSurvey
Please do let any Deaf people in the UK know about the survey. Deaf people have felt the effects of the government’s mission to outsource interpreting services over the last few years. Many Deaf people have never had adequate access to health care for years which outsourcing has certainly not helped.
This survey aims to collate the experiences of Deaf people on the ground, those who are really effected by the drive for profit, the deterioration of standards, the loss of work for registered interpreters and ultimately the reduction in access for Deaf people.
Whilst this blog reports on issues generally from an interpreter’s perspective of the effects of outsourcing, what the organisations involved need is hard evidence of what the reality is for Deaf people in the UK trying to access health care. If you have good feedback about your local service please fill out the survey too. In the post code lottery of outsourcing and who your local interpreting contract ends up with, it is more likely you have experienced less than adequate services.
Please fill out the survey today. Have your say and pass it on.