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How do you know you are working with a good sign language interpreter?

Working with a sign language interpreter can be a great experience, but how can you be sure you are working with a good one?

A sign language interpreter works as an intermediary between two languages transferring meaning from one spoken or signed language into another signed or spoken language.⁠

When working with a sign language interpreter there are a few things you should take into consideration to make sure that they are qualified, experienced, and professional.

This article will outline the elements to look at to know that you are working with a good sign language interpreter:

  1. First of all, research the Interpreter's Credentials*. It is important to make sure they are qualified and follow professional standard as outlined by NRCPD (Sign Language Interpreters and Lipspeakers). Depending on the support you need, it is worth clarifying that BSL Interpreters must hold a Level 6 Diploma BSL interpreting qualification and be registered with NRCDP. This is not a requirement for a Communication Support Workers (CSW). Instead, they will hold a minimum BSL Level 3 qualification and a CSW qualification. Read below the differences between these two roles.

  2. They will adhere to a code of ethics and conduct and shall conduct themselves in a professional manner and be impartial at all times.

  3. A good sign language interpreter will have developed a deeply understanding of deafness and Deaf culture, as well as a deep linguistic understanding⁠.

  4. They will have an impeccable body language skills and the ability to communicate clearly and effectively, in real time.

  5. Make sure the sign language interpreter is familiar with your field or specialty, they are up-to-date on terminology, and have an extensive vocabulary, A beforehand preparation in case of any specialist vocabulary that’s going to be used.

  6. They will need high levels of concentration, know how to work under pressure, and being able to handle difficult situations in a calm and professional manner.

The most important thing is to make sure that they are professional, respectful, and trustworthy. A good sign language interpreter will be committed to helping you communicate effectively and clearly.

If you take the time to find an interpreter who meets these criteria, it will make a world of difference in your communication. With the right sign language interpreter, you can be sure that your communication needs are being met.

Differences between CSWs and BSL Interpreters

  • CSW’s place of work is primarily in the education sector, providing communication support to students with varying degrees of hearing loss. This means the CSW adapts their communication method to suit the student such as using notetaking, British Sign Language, spoken English and lip-speaking. They may also modify teaching materials to a level the student will understand and will teach deaf awareness to the student’s tutors and peers. CSWs may also work within the workplace, supporting deaf employees, again tailoring the support to meet the needs and preferences of the deaf person.

  • BSL Interpreters work in any place that requires communication between a hearing person and a deaf person. This can include education and the workplace but also hospitals, police settings, counselling, doctor’s surgery and many more.


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