Here we give information on Deaf Relay Interpreters and  their profession. This page contains details  about:

1. What does a Deaf Relay Interpreter do?

2. Are Deaf Relay Interpreters registered?

3. What is the Difference between Sign Language Interpreters, Deaf Relay Interpreters, Deaf Interpreters and Sign Language Translators ?

4. What are Clarion’s team numbers?

5. What is the system for checking quality? 

6. What are our plans? 

7. What are the Assessment Criteria for Deaf Relay Interpreters?

8. Why are we doing this?

1. What does a Deaf Relay Interpreter do?

Deaf Relay Interpreters are experienced, trained Deaf people who work alongside registered BSL interpreters with users who are Deaf but not fluent in BSL. It is a profession that is over 20 years old. They adapt what the hearing interpreter is signing into a variation of Sign Language for the client, and when appropriate, together with the client’s response for the interpreter. A Deaf Relay Interpreter will ensure that the client fully understands the message. There are about 40 in the whole of the UK. 

When a deaf client has specific or complex language needs they will need a Deaf Relay Interpreter.  The client requiring a Deaf Relay Interpreter may have learning disabilities, mental health problems or use a foreign sign language. Different Deaf Relays will specialise in these three different areas.

They work usually in mental health settings including tribunals and in many criminal justice settings including police, Magistrates, County or Crown Court. They also get requested by local authorities when working with vulnerable people who are also Deaf or in safeguarding settings.  They rarely get requested in health, education or corporate bookings.

2. Are Deaf Relay Interpreters registered?

No. There is no NRCPD registration category for Deaf Relay Interpreters.  The interpreting profession and Deaf and hearing Organisations have tried to get this working, but with no success. 

NRCPD has registration categories for the following: 

1. Sign Language Interpreters. As of May 1st 2017 there are 1016 (273 trainees) of these and we estimate that four of these are Deaf, although this is not recorded in their system.  It can take 7 years to train, and cost upward of £10,000.  These are not registered as Deaf Relay Interpreters. 

2. Interpreters for Deafblind People

3. Lipspeakers

4.  Speech to Text Reporters

5.  Notetakers and

6. Sign Language Translators. 

The register for trained Deaf Intermediaries sits with the Ministry of Justice. 

3. What is the Difference between Sign Language Interpreters, Deaf Relay Interpreters, Deaf Interpreters and Sign Language Translators?

We estimate 99.6% of Sign Language Interpreters are hearing and 0.4% are Deaf. Their role is to interpret between spoken English and BSL/ISL or ASL and back again. 

100% of Sign Language Translators are Deaf and their role is to translate written English into BSL and back again.

4 of the 1016 NRCPD Interpreters are also experienced and trained in Deaf Relay interpreting and, in addition, meet our requirements. These requirements include, but are not limited to availability, geographical closeness and work within our terms and conditions or vice versa. 

4 of the 11 NRCPD Translators are also experienced/trained in Deaf Relay work and, in addition, meet our requirements. 

34 of our Deaf Relays are experienced and/or trained.

Making a total pool of 42 Deaf Relay Interpreters that we would like to get assessed.

4. Clarion’s team numbers

5. What is the system for checking quality ? 

For categories 1-6 , the process goes.

NRCPD registration, although no ironclad  guarantee of quality, does mean that the person you get is  properly trained by

For Deaf Relay Interpreters it is:

6. What are our plans? 

As you can see, they are different systems. What we are proposing is formalising the assessment processes (stage 2) so that at the least, the hearing and Deaf clients have some measure of quality. This is not a training programme, but an assessment of their ability to function at a safe level. We are also keen that the importance of a registration category for Deaf Relay Interpreters alongside a functioning training and CPD programme can be re-awoken by the profession. This assessment counts as 6 CPD points. 

We hope in the future that NRCPD will recognise training so that there can be a professional route for recognition of the skilled and  challenging work done by our great Deaf Relay Interpreting team.. 

We can’t do this alone though…

We did approach Signamic 5 years ago but with no progress.  The training, CPD and registration stages (2,3 and 4) will need to be in partnership  with; NRCPD, VLP,  all specialist agencies, government procurement, , ASLI, BDA, the profession itself and anyone else who is a stakeholder. If you are interested in contributing to the leadership of this project, please get in touch with either myself or Byron Campbell.

After June 10th, we are intending  have a pool of 12 assessed Deaf Relay Interpreters and 4 who were assessed on the Sign Solutions/GO DIRECT course (back in 2006/12). They will be given priority for all our Deaf Relay Interpreter bookings across the UK.  We will be running more assessment days through the Summer and into the Autumn at central locations. 

7. What are the Assessment Criteria for Deaf Relay Interpreters?

This is not an assessment for a qualification.  We will be running a brief assessment and interview process for the Deaf Relay Interpreters to ensure they understand the role and ethics of a professional interpreter and have the skills and abilities to provide a safe and effective service.

Our assessment criteria match the criteria taken from the National Occupational Standards for Sign Language Interpreters. We are not using the same level of detail as if they were being assessed for a qualification. 

Taken from Signature Qualification Specifications – Level 6 NVQ Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting, the skills portion of the assessment will look at their ability to fulfil the following criteria;

Interpret two-way as a Professional Sign language Interpreter

Carry out two-way interpreting assignments to a professional standard by:

  1. Interpret accurately the meaning expressed by users who are communicating with each other across two languages, with only minor omissions and inaccuracies that do not significantly affect the meaning of the base message in either language
  2. Reflect the language users’: register, attitude and tone as expressed through verbal and non-verbal communication
  3. Reflect the language users’ roles and relationships with each other
  4. Interpret consecutively and/or simultaneously/whispered
  5. Interpret factual information, concepts and opinions
  6. Paraphrase the meaning of complex terms and phrases, if the direct equivalent in the target language is not known
  7. Support effective communication throughout the assignment and take action if communication breaks down
  8. Explain the interpreter’s role on arrival, if necessary
    Use conduct consistent with the principles of professional practice and the relevant professional or registration body’s code of conduct

8. Why are we doing this?

Because we believe that providing a reliable, consistent and value driven service is very important for our hearing and deaf clients and for the specialist work that we do. Luckily, The Ministry of Justice contract gives us 100% control over the services provided in the criminal justice sector for up to 7 years. The quality of service provided by our Interpreters, Lipspeakers and STTR in the first 6 months is good and we are confident in moving forward with our training and development plans we will ensure the same consistency in our Deaf Relay team. 

If you have any more questions about Deaf Relay Interpreting please don’t hesitate to get in touch.