Sign Solutions
Sign Solutions is a language and learning company, specialising in interpretation support for Deaf people, we provide BSL interpreting; face-to-face and via video, BSL translations, expert witness reports, BSL and CPD training and deaf awareness training via e-learning, 24/7/365 throughout the UK.

Latest News from Sign Solutions

The importance of communication between medical professionals and Deaf people amid the coronavirus outbreak


The Deaf community has always faced barriers when accessing the NHS, from needing an interpreter to talk to a doctor, to navigating information in NHS leaflets and on medical advice websites.

Now, as the coronavirus COVID-19 continues to spread worldwide, Deaf people are met with even more challenges, where accessible information and medical services are more important than ever.

Deaf people were initially denied access to live government updates on COVID-19 as press conferences had no interpreters present. This has now been resolved and information is being delivered in British Sign Language (BSL), but there is more work to be done in increasing accessibility. So, how can we keep communication flowing during this challenging time and ensure Deaf people aren’t left behind?

Know your obligations

The Accessible Information Standard (AIS) was introduced by the government in 2016 to ensure people with a disability or sensory loss are given information in a way they can understand, and it’s important to keep this legislation front of mind as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise. If implemented effectively, it brings several benefits, including improved outcomes, heightened experiences and the provision of safer and more personalised care and services for patients. Medical professionals should be aware that they are legally obliged to comply with the AIS in order to identify and meet the information and communication support needs of patients and must act accordingly.

Take advantage of technology

With patients being actively discouraged from attending their local GP practice or hospital in person due to the COVID-19 spread, technology has a key role to play in aiding communication between medical professionals and Deaf people. For the NHS, video interpreting systems can enable profoundly Deaf patients to have instant access to a clinician in person or over the phone, through a registered and qualified BSL interpreter. The systems work to remove the communication barriers for Deaf people, by giving them the freedom and independence to communicate with and access the services provided by their local NHS trust, allowing vital information to be communicated simply, easily and on demand 24/7.

Understand your patient’s requirements

Understanding and acknowledging your patient’s communication methods is vital. Fail to communicate appropriately and effectively and you could risk misdiagnosing your patient or, even worse, prescribing the wrong medication. There are various means of communication that can be used depending on your patient’s needs and preferences, from BSL and Sign Supported English (SSE) to using the deafblind manual alphabet or lip-reading. That said, you must be aware of the challenges lip-reading presents (studies show only 30 to 45 percent of the English language can be understood through lip reading alone[1]), and you should never presume a patient will be able to lipread because he/she is Deaf or hearing impaired.

Seek external support

Whilst taking the above steps can undoubtedly help bring the NHS closer to meeting accessibility needs during the COVID-19 crisis, if in doubt you should seek the advice of an external expert who can offer guidance and services to help you communicate effectively in these testing times. This includes interpretation support face-to-face and via video, BSL translations and Deaf awareness training. With the right action and support, it is possible for medical professionals to empower the Deaf community and break down the barriers that people with disabilities face, not just as we gear up to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, but into the future, too.

Clare Vale is Managing Director of Sign Solutions





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.