Sign Solutions
Sign Solutions is a language and learning company, specialising in BSL interpreting; face to face and video, spoken language interpreting, legal services, expert witness, BSL courses, deaf awareness training, e-learning, BSL apps.

Latest News from Sign Solutions

Investigation: How accessible are broadband customer services to the deaf community?


Broadband customer services have been described as "insulting" and "inaccessible" to deaf customers, with campaigners calling for a change in the way providers look at accessibility.

The Equality Act 2010 insists that all organisations have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for users with additional needs, while Ofcom requires all landline, broadband and mobile companies to provide a range of measures to allow disabled customers to access these services.

For deaf people and those with hearing loss, this means access to a Next Generation Text Relay Service (NGTS), access to emergency SMS and third-party bill management. NGTS is a service for those who are unable to hear or communicate verbally. It uses what is known as a relay assistant to convert speech into text and vice versa.

BT, Three, O2, EE, Vodafone, Sky and Virgin have taken it a step further and include a Video Relay Service (VRS) that connects customers to a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter.

While the providers are obliged to supply additional facilities for deaf and disabled customers, it appears not enough is being done to ensure they are up to date and fit for purpose.

Cable carried out an investigation into whether the current facilities in place are sufficient and what providers can do to improve them. We unearthed dated and hard-to-find accessibility web pages, and spoke to members of the deaf community who made it clear that quite often, some of the services do not work, or when they do, the customer is still asked to communicate verbally over the phone.

As part of the investigation, Cable tested the customer services accessibility pages of each of the top six broadband companies.

For us, BT has the worst website for finding the accessibility features. Unlike the other providers, it doesn’t have an Accessibility tab at the footer of the page, nor are there any additional options on the Contact Us landing page. We finally resorted to a Google search of BT BSL and BT Accessibility. Once you find it, the page looks archaic and basic.

 

Vodafone, EE, Plusnet and TalkTalk’s pages are very similar, but offer more information than those of BT – and are easier to find. In terms of format, the details given and general navigability, Sky has the best accessibility page. With the exception of Virgin Media and Sky, the accessibility pages of most providers merely present a token effort.

We spoke to TalkTalk customer Andrew Arthur, who is deaf and has experienced first hand the lack of accessible customer services available in the telecoms sector.

'Pretty insulting and typically ignorant'

Mr Arthur, 70, from Liskeard in Cornwall, started having problems with his phone line, which he uses to make calls via the Next Generation Text service (NGTS), earlier this year when the village phone system was hit by lightning during a bad storm.

After trying to resolve the problem from home, Mr Arthur attempted to get in touch with TalkTalk via its online webchat service. He was able to report the problem but upon receiving no response had to report the fault again a week later.

Two weeks after the problem was initially reported, a TalkTalk representative asked Mr Arthur to make a phone call in order to access the fault-finding service. Mr Arthur alerted them to the fact that he is deaf and asked for an alternative method.

“The best they could come up with was ‘can't you ask someone else to do it for you?’," he told Cable. "I thought this was pretty insulting and typically ignorant. I'm entitled to a reasonable adjustment but they just did nothing. Again, I contacted them and again they insisted that I had to ring them on a mobile before they would fix the line.”

Frustrated with the lack of accessibility and the ordeal that several customer service operatives were putting him through, Mr Arthur took the matter into his own hands and reported it to both the Equality and Human Rights Commission and to a telecoms ombudsman.

He added: “It's absolutely unbelievable that TalkTalk can get away with being so awkward and unhelpful. I thought that is what all these laws were designed to avoid. What I found astonishing was that in the 21st century a company the size of TalkTalk could be so ignorant about disability matters.”

Mr Arthur’s problem was eventually resolved, TalkTalk apologised and fixed the phone line but the overall issue doesn’t end here. There are others going through the same plight with other providers.

Ashley Graczyk, who represents the Sighthill and Gorgie areas of Edinburgh as a city councillor, is profoundly deaf and campaigns for social justice and disability rights.

As a former Plusnet customer, she had trouble for a few months trying close her account due to the provider’s “inaccessible” website.

“Many deaf customers, including myself, have struggled immensely to resolve issues with internet providers, such as trying to close an account, because they have claimed that they can only communicate via the phone. This is despite making these providers aware via social media of why we were unable to use the phone," said Cllr Graczyk.

“Some deaf customers are even landed with a bigger bill, due to charges added by the providers themselves and collection agencies, which deaf customers are forced to pay. All because certain internet providers have not made their services accessible to deaf people. Robust action must be taken.”

Mr Arthur and Cllr Graczyk are not alone in experiencing accessibilities issues with broadband and mobile service providers. Scores of deaf customers have taken to social media to air their frustrations.

 

https://www.cable.co.uk/news/how-accessible-is-the-telecoms-industry-for-the-deaf-community--700002616/





Interpreting & other communication services

We are able to provide a full range of communication professionals available for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing users in any domain, be it legal, business, medical, educational, conference, community, theatre, etc: 

  • British Sign Language (BSL)/English Interpreters (NRCPD Registered)
  • Lipspeakers (NRCPD and/or Association of Lipspeakers Registered)
  • Deafblind interpreters: Visual Frame, HandsOn or Manual (NRCPD Registered)
  • Speech-to-text operators (Palantype and SpeedText) (NRCPD/BIVR or AVSTTR Registered)
  • Notetakers (electronic and manual [hand-written]) (NRCPD Registered)
  • Deaf Relay Interpreters (Language intermediaries for Deaf people who are not fluent in BSL)
  • Deaf Intermediaries: Deaf intermediaries to support vulnerable Deaf adults/children in legal proceedings (Home Office accredited)
  • BSL/English translations (video, DVD, website etc)
  • UK Registered Expert Witness Services (Interpreting/Translation issues)Lip-reading services (CCTV, covert surveillance, etc)

Is it ‘interpreter’ or ‘signer’?

Many people refer to Sign Language interpreters as ‘signers’, however this is an incorrect term. They describe a BSL (British Sign Language) interpreter as a ‘signer’ because they use Sign Language, i.e. they sign in order to communicate. The common language for Deaf people in the UK is BSL (British Sign Language); therefore these Deaf people require interpreters for many aspects of life.

There is no one way to interpret – interpretation is subjective to the interpreter (or ‘signer’ as some hearing people incorrectly term them), therefore every interpretation will be different.

The company was launched as the first independent Sign Language interpreting agency, and here at Sign Solutions, we are Sign Language specialists, i.e. we specialise in the field of BSL (British Sign Language) and interpreting. Our reputation is well established within the industry of interpreting; 75% of all NRCPD interpreters are registered with us and take freelance work through us. We are now one of Britain’s leading providers of interpretation and translation services.

We are available 24/7, and offer competitive rates with no administration charges.

BSL (British Sign Language) Translations

Translation is a carefully prepared and considered piece of work involving the translation of written text from one language to another. It is performed by a translator, and it is different to an interpretation; it is more exact.

A ‘for information’ translation, also  known as a ‘sight translation’, is an accurate but unpolished piece of work that is produced in-house using a camcorder (English to BSL) or using standard printing and letter/document formats, or alternatively, audio tape (BSL to English).  They are produced faster and much more cheaply than a publication translation.  Sight translation is suitable for letters or information that is intended for individual/personal use only.  Examples range from an explanation of a leaflet to court/tribunal judgements.

Sight translations

Sight translation is suitable for letters, video-letters or information that is intended for individual/personal use only. Examples range from an explanation of a leaflet to court/tribunal judgements.

Public Translations

A ‘publication translation’ requires a much higher standard of preparation, accuracy, fidelity, clarity and quality and will be filmed in a professional recording studio. The final product will reflect the style/image of the source material and of your company/product.

Publication translations are required for any documents where it is important to portray a professional image.

Because they are filmed in professional recording studios, the cost will be greater than that of a sight translation.

It is almost always preferable to use a Deaf presenter for ‘publication translations’. This is because the Deaf person will have first language fluency and this creates an instant rapport with your Deaf audience. The majority of BSL (British Sign Language) interpreters (or ‘signers’ as some hearing people incorrectly term them) only have second language fluency and their translations can be immediately recognised as a non-native production. This is because the BSL (British Sign Language) may not flow as smoothly as it should, i.e. word order or choice of vocabulary may be unduly influenced by the English source text. It is equivalent to listening to a heavily accented and perhaps ungrammatical foreign person presenting in English. This lowers the quality of your product and can often alienate your client.  Using a Deaf person will not usually incur any extra expense.

With Sign Solutions you can be sure that the final product will be an accurate and high quality translation.

BSL (British Sign Language) & Interpreter Training

We are an award-winning and accredited NVQ6 Training & Assessment Centre dedicated to the provision of high-quality training, assessment, monitoring and continuing professional development (CPD) for BSL/English Interpreters and other professionals who use BSL (British Sign Language) on a regular basis. We also provide Deaf Awareness Training and Levels 1-6 BSL (British Sign Language) courses for individuals and organisations.

We can deliver training courses anywhere in the UK, and can tailor the training to suit your needs; therefore the training will be bespoke. This can be done for any course: BSL (British Sign Language), Interpreting or Deaf Awarene.

Our course portfolio includes:

Level 6 NVQ Diploma, Sign Language Interpreting
Level 6 NVQ Certificate in BSL (British Sign Language)
BSL/Interpreting Level 6 Development Training
NVQ3 in BSL (British Sign Language)
BSL (British Sign Language) Level 1
BSL (British Sign Language) Level 2
Deaf Awareness face-to-face training & via e-learning
Introduction to BSL (British Sign Language) Linguistics
Induction into Police & Magistrates’ Court Interpreting
Professional Deaf Relay training
Introduction to Interpreting in Mental Health Settings
Advanced English for Interpreters
Language Processing & Coping Strategies
Intensive Voice-Over Training (BSL-to-English)
Intensive English-to-BSL Training
Totally CPD (a chance to earn all your CPD points in one course)

Sign Solutions provide the largest range of CPD (Continuing Professional Development) training courses of any UK Sign Language agency; therefore if you are a BSL (British Sign Language) interpreter, who is looking to develop your interpretation skills and knowledge of interpreting and BSL (British Sign Language), why not sign up to one of our CPD (Continuing Professional Development) training courses?

Innovations

We offer various innovations available to both Deaf and hearing people – whether an interpreter or not – to assist in communication between the two communities. In addition to in-house training, we provide Deaf Awareness via e-learning; this method raining is available online and so provides an alternative to Deaf Awareness training face-to-face. The user(s) will receive a certificate of Deaf Awareness upon completion of the course.

In addition, we offer a finger-spelling app which provides the first steps for a hearing person to communicate with a Deaf person. It teaches the user how to spell their name in BSL (British Sign Language), and the finger-spelling is demonstrated by a Deaf presenter.

Our Head Interpreter has also developed a range of Training DVDs which aim to help interpreters improve their BSL (British Sign Language) kills. Each training DVD contains two discs: one for interpreting English-to-BSL and the other for interpreting BSL-to-English. Each individual nstructured CPD points when completed.

He has developed a supplementary DVD which is designed specifically to assist interpreters working in police settings. Police cautions can often cause difficulties, and this DVD is designed to assist interpreters in interpreting this challenging procedure. The DVD is intended to be used as a guideline for interpreters; it features three Deaf people providing alternative ways of interpreting the caution.

Expert Witness

Here at Sign Solutions we offer a diverse team of expert witnesses. An Expert Interpreter/Witness is someone who has specialised knowledge in BSL (British Sign Language), beyond that of a regular BSL interpreter, and can advise and/or work with counsel on specific language and cultural issues relevant to Deaf people, British Sign Language and Interpretation. They can provide accurate transcripts of police interviews with Deaf people, and verify the accuracy of in-court interpretations. Expert witnesses are indispensable in high-profile legal assignments.

It is inevitable that interpreters will make mistakes, and without establishing that the Deaf person understands what is being asked of them during the interview/court hearing and verifying the accuracy of every minute aspect of interpretation, the outcome of the court case could very well be compromised. Sign Solutions currently offers six Expert Witnesses.