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Report published: Signing the right path

Jennifer Bird • Aug 28, 2020 • 2 min read

Person holding book

Interpreters on the front line, often see the realities of interpreting service delivery: which agencies have good practice and which just don’t, won’t or can’t deliver.

As a community business of Deaf people and interpreters, starting in Merseyside, we wanted to check our assumptions and find out what was happening across the region, from all user’s perspectives: Deaf people, interpreters and health professionals. We conducted a survey and asked leading Disability Consultant and Author, Ellen Clifford to write a report on the findings.

The findings show a number of problems with interpreting delivery from a lack of availability, poor quality and a lack of understanding about Deaf people’s communication needs. These problems are clear, especially in the health sector.

For public sector health organisations, who have an equality duty to Deaf patients, not having access to British Sign Language interpreters can cause longer waiting times, increased costs and impact on their own service delivery. At worst, not having a quality, quick and cost-effective interpreting service can put Deaf people’s health at risk.

We also asked respondents what a perfect interpreting service would look like. This formed part of the service design for the user-owned Signalise platform and answers included: user-led, easy to use and fair and transparent.

“A new type of agency, run and controlled by the people who need, use and work for it could achieve significant improvements in meeting the needs of the Deaf community, supporting the interpreting profession and enabling health services to improve access.”

-- Signing the Right Path, Signalise Report

After a decade of contracting that started with one-stop shops for interpreting with British Sign Language being delivered by spoken language agencies, the decline in choice, quality and standards is clear. For health, a crucial part of life, Deaf people do not get the access they need. Signalise as a community-owned business, being shaped by users themselves, is in a unique position to create a solution that provides better access for all users.

You can download the report from our website or by clicking the front cover of the report above.