BSL Presentation on Interpreters: A Change of Contract or a Change of Heart

A big thank you to Paul Neal of Neal Communications Agency (NCA) for making this video.
It is a completely accurate description, in BSL (transcript in English available), of what is currently happening to the sign language interpreting profession in the UK.
The registration system for interpreters is often misunderstood with Deaf people confusing level 6 in BSL as qualified and not realising interpreters need to complete interpreter training as well in order to register.
There is a good summary of the risks of using signers or CSWs, not only the obvious immediate risk to the Deaf community, but the short and long-term risks to the interpreting profession as a whole and the subsequent effect that will have on Deaf access if these trends are allowed to continue.
Other agencies seem to have misunderstood, are unaware of these risks or are actively using this to increase their own profits. Shockingly there are some Deaf-led agencies guilty of this, who do not have the insight to see the damage they do to their own community.
For me, NCA is the benchmark other agencies, especially Deaf-led, should aspire to follow as an agency with a complete understanding of the market, the risks to the interpreting profession and most importantly to the Deaf community we are all supposed to be here to serve.

BBC: See Hear Interpreting Special


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.