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23 01, 2019

The Interpreting Career that Started on the Dance Floor

By |January 23rd, 2019|Categories: Access to Work, British Sign Language, Careers, Professional Development, Sign Language, Stories, Stories, Video Remote Interpreting|0 Comments

Ash caught up with Oscar Tena, a Freelance BSL Interpreter, to gossip over brunch in a Clapham pub about his journey, from Interpreting for Deaf clubbers to keeping up with future technology.

Hi Oscar, could you start by telling me about how you came to be a BSL interpreter?

I’m from Northern Spain, Basque Country but I moved to London at 21. I’ve been working within the Deaf community for 18 years. I used to love clubbing in London. One night, when out in Farringdon in the 90’s, I met some Deaf people. We became friends and I always felt inclined to ask “How do you say this?” and “How do you say that?”

Moving here from Spain, I kind of felt it was my responsibility to learn English to communicate. When I started chatting with my Deaf friends, they could lip read so they could understand what I was saying but I couldn’t understand what they were saying.

I thought “Who’s got the problem?” Well, me, because I didn’t understand. So, it felt natural to learn their language. I enjoyed it. Maybe learning English opened up my mind to learning other things.

From there I started building on my signing, until one night they said…

“We love you, but we’re here to have fun, not to teach. So please go ahead and enroll on a course.”

So, with that advice I went “Well, thanks for that.” and started my Level One training.

After doing my Level Two my Deaf friends suggested I try becoming an interpreter, as I was always facilitating communication between them and hearing clubbers. It took off slowly from there, initially learning the ropes while working as a CSW (Communication Support Worker) supporting Deaf students in college.

What do you like about interpreting?

The whole human factor of the job is the most enjoyable part of it. In essence (without wanting to sound big headed) you’re helping people. When you go to a booking, you’re enabling people to access something that is helping them to improve their quality of life and you’re helping them to achieve that. So, you’re happy for them. It keeps you going.

What do you wish more people knew about interpreting?

To be open minded about engaging with us. We’re facilitating communication between two parties but we’re still human beings, we are approachable and we’re not pretending to know more than anybody else. Luckily, it tends to be mostly positive experiences.

Fortunately, there are multiple government schemes aimed at supporting disabled people, either by Access To Work or through the Disability Act or a million other things to support accessibility for Deaf people. Demand for BSL interpreters is at an all-time high. As a result, unfortunately, many bookings are going unfilled

In the news recently there’s been concern about budget changes, are you worried this could affect the interpreters place?

I only worry about things that I have control over. It’s gonna happen if it has to happen.

Regarding the cuts – it’s been on the cards for six or seven years. But after doing market research, they had to acknowledge that the fees we’re charging are justified. And luckily the Access to Work cap has been raised to accommodate for Deaf professionals to work at senior/executive levels.

Do you think the role of an interpreter could change with the new technology that’s being developed?

Currently it is changing, the technology is already there and the use of VRI (Video Remote Interpreting) is quickly growing. It’s already proven to be more practical than traditional on-site interpreting for certain situations.

Saying that, further research shows there are circumstances where being face to face with someone enables you to access much more information. Signing is clearer, body language is visible and the interpreter is aware of the full environment. You don’t want to bring a video camera to a mental health assessment or to a hospital to deliver bad news.

Technology is fantastic and I love it. But we all know that the moment you really, really need it, Wi-Fi will cut out or the camera will freeze and suddenly it looks like you’re break-dancing on video-chat. Who knows, maybe in 20 years and we’ll all be holograms!

As I said, the human factor in this job is very important. When you’re next to someone, you can feel what they’re feeling so that adds meaning to what they’re saying. Maybe I’m getting too hippy here but I think it’s important.

What are your plans for the future?

Well if as you say, in 20 year’s time we’ll be holograms, I’ll be in the Caribbean somewhere, on a permanent holiday, sending my 27-year-old-looking interpreter hologram out in the world. I’m looking forward to it!

Thanks Oscar.

The demand for BSL interpreters is high and Clarion UK are often looking for more freelancers to join the team. If you would like to speak to someone about what role you would be suitable for, please contact If you would like to share your story over coffee or email, please get in touch with Ash at




16 01, 2019

Have you used our Discreet and Professional Remote STTR Service?

By |January 16th, 2019|Categories: Access to Work, Deaf Community, Services, Stories, Stories|0 Comments

About our Remote Speech to Text Reporting service

Here at Clarion UK we have been developing our Remote Speech to Text Reporting service with help from our dedicated and experienced team. The Remote STTR service is designed to help anyone who is hard of hearing to connect and engage conveniently and discreetly when in an environment that involves speech. For example, during a one-to-one review, a small meeting or large event with hearing colleagues.

How does it work?

If a hard of hearing customer requires this service, one of our reporters will give them a call. The customer will be asked to open the text viewing software on a laptop or tablet. Through this software our reporter can type a live stream of what is being said in real time.

We asked one of our new customers who works in finance some questions about how they found the service…

In what context do you use the Remote STTR service?

I use the remote STTR service for small meetings at work (less than 10 people). I have a personal laptop and we use a conference phone in the meeting rooms. I find that this is more than acceptable in picking up the audio feed for the reporter.

How did you find the set-up process?

Incredibly simple!! I am not a techie person by any means, but it was literally clicking on a weblink that the reporter sent me prior to the meeting and answering a telephone call. The reporter explained that I could amend the size / colour of the text received and highlighted some basic functions.

Did you have any difficulties with the service being remote?

None whatsoever, it was perfect. All the text was captured and nothing was missed.

Why is the service beneficial to you?

It made me feel a lot more confident in the meeting and I didn’t feel like I ‘stuck’ out so much. I was the same as everyone else, sat with a laptop in front of me. It was more economical time wise, as I didn’t have to meet a reporter in reception, wait for them to set up/dismantle and then escort them from the building. I felt more professional and more in control.

How do you find the technology, is it easy to use?

Extremely easy. I was really worried the night before the meeting because I thought it was going to be really complicated and I was going to look silly in front of my work colleagues if I did not get the IT aspects working. All I had to do was click on a hyperlink and provide a telephone number for the reporter to call.

How accurate and easy to understand would you say the text responses are?

The responses were perfect – we use a lot of acronyms and the reporter did not miss one during the whole meeting. I felt genuinely included in the meeting and confident that everything was being captured. I did not have to ask the reporter to clarify any of her typing comments.

Overall would you recommend the remote STTR service?

I would 100% recommend the service. It felt a lot more natural and I felt so much more confident without someone sat next to me typing. I felt like I belonged more and didn’t stick out as the deaf person as much. I will definitely be using the service again and Access to Work are more than happy to cover the costs involved. It does actually work out cheaper because there is not travelling fees involved.

If you would like to find out how we can help you, please get in touch with us at office@clarion-uk.comor see our website further information.

31 03, 2018

Partner Bulletin 17 – Our New Employment Contract

By |March 31st, 2018|Categories: Access to Work, Careers, CEC Stories, Partner Bulletin|0 Comments

Since launching our award-winning Communication and Employment Consultant (CEC) model in 2010, Clarion UK has become the market leaders in specialist employment support providers for Deaf and hard of hearing jobseekers. As well as providing Deaf customers with communication support, we assist them with a complete range of one to one mentoring, advice, guidance and job seeking activities to effectively support them into and through work.
Our Head of Specialist Employment Services, Bob Marsh developed and oversees our CEC work, a National and highly successful provision culminating in Clarion UK’s worthy recognition as winners of ERSA’s Supply Chain Partner of the Year award in 2013.Our spectrum of specialist services allows us to take a holistic approach when working with individual Deaf and hard of hearing customers some distance from the workplace and thus encourages empowerment and independence.

Our Specialist Employment Services – Looking to the Future

We are delighted to announce that we were successful in being selected as a preferred specialist employment support supplier for Deaf and hard of hearing customers on the Government’s new Work and Health Programme for 11 specific areas across England and Wales. We are proud to work alongside these partners on the Work and Health Programme along with the Specialist and Employability Support (SES) programme:

Shaw Trust
Reed in Partnership
Doncaster Deaf Trust

Should you wish to learn more about our unique CEC provision please do not hesitate to contact Bob on 01763 209001 or:


Freelance Communication and Employment Consultants (CECs)

We are currently recruiting for freelance CECs nationwide.

Our CECs will be required to:

  • Communicate fluently in BSL at a minimum of Level 3 BSL standards.
  • Demonstrate a high level of deaf awareness and a comprehensive understanding of the barriers faced by deaf jobseekers gaining entry into the labour market and staying in work.

Click here to find out more or contact

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date.
21 03, 2018

Are you passionate about supporting Deaf people into work?

By |March 21st, 2018|Categories: Access to Work, Careers, CEC Stories, Deaf Employment|1 Comment

Clarion UK has been delivering an innovative, award-winning and highly successful employment support model for Deaf and hard of hearing jobseekers under the Government’s Welfare to Work programmes for the past 8 years. Our Communication and Employment Consultant model allows Clarion UK to help meet the unique needs of Deaf and hard of hearing job seekers on a National level by ensuring mainstream employment services are fully accessible to our specific client group.

If you possess a minimum Level 3 BSL or TSLI/RSLI with useful employment knowledge, skills, background and you are passionate about supporting Deaf and hard of hearing jobseekers to overcome barriers, then we need you!


Our Communication and Employment Consultants (CECs) will be required to:

  • Communicate upwards of a minimum Level 3 BSL standards.
  • Demonstrate a high level of Deaf awareness and a comprehensive understanding of the barriers faced by deaf jobseekers gaining entry into the labour market and staying in work.

Job Description

A typical day as a CEC would include:

  • Attending and providing full communication support to enable smooth interaction between the Prime or sub-contractor Advisor and the Deaf customer at their initial and follow up appointments.
  • Provide one-to-one job searching support with the client:
  • Assistance with realistic employment aims
  • CV writing
  • Assist with job applications
  • Interview training, confidence and motivation building

A recent quote from one of our long standing CECs:

“Just want to say, just in case I have not said it recently, how much I love my job and how much I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to do this job

For more information on this specialist provision, follow this

How to Apply

If you are interested in this exciting and highly rewarding role please email your latest CV to Clarion UK’s Head of Specialist Employment Services, Bob Marsh  detailing your current communication qualifications and why you feel you have the skills and knowledge to perform the CEC role.

20 03, 2018

Breaking News: 2018 will see a Rise in the ATW Cap!

By |March 20th, 2018|Categories: Access to Work, Uncategorized|0 Comments

We are overjoyed to learn that Sarah Newton has announced several changes to ATW (Access To Work) funding, the main being,

“As of April 2018, the cap will not rise to £43,100 in line with 1.5 times average earnings. Instead it will rise to £57,200, double average earnings, and will be uprated annually on that basis. This means that considerably fewer British Sign Language users now remain affected by the cap.”

You can read the full published statement below or read it on the Parliament site here.

Thank you and congratulations to everyone involved in making this happen, including Darren Townsend-Handscomb, Bob Birchall, Bob Marsh, Dan Sumners, David Buxton, Jim Edwards, Laura Arrowsmith, Paul Lennon, Lidia Best, Lindsey Jane Rousseau, Martin McLean,  Robert Geaney, Rowena Stobart and Sally Paull.

If you would like to find out details about the employment support that we offer, check out our website here or contact

19 04, 2017

Bob’s Jobs Now in Jobcentres Nationwide

By |April 19th, 2017|Categories: Access to Work, Careers, CEC Stories|0 Comments

Our Employment Service for Deaf and hard of hearing people is now available in every Jobcentre in the UK. What this means is that our UK wide network of Communication and Employment Consultants are available to support people to help them seek, find and keep real and meaningful work.  If you want to hear one of our success stories, you can read about Agnese who is profoundly Deaf and from Latvia here .  Our success in helping Deaf people who either have multiple barriers to getting into work or just need a quick “leg up” is testimony to the work that Bob and his team do.  They build confidence, help with CVS, practice interview skills and have an extensive network of employers who pioneer disabled and deaf friendly HR practices. Their significant knowledge of Deaf culture and British Sign Language aligned with The Equalities Act  help break down barriers with employers.

We have been busy, over the winter months, getting ourselves up ready to join the “Dynamic Purchasing System”, ran by the government for the Department of Work and Pensions. It is a completely electronic system that it does not operate in the same way as a traditional contract/framework –  it is an ‘open market’ product designed to provide access to a pool of suppliers which can be constantly refreshed.

There are 7 regions covered by the system and this means that every job centre up and down the country can access our employment services. We are very proud to be the only specialist Deaf employment provider to be available Nationwide and able to roll our delivery at the twitch of a whisker.

If you would like to know more, ask at your local job centre and please do get in touch with Bob Marsh, the Employment  Business Development Manager to find out about this or any of our other communication services.


SMS: 07850 203642

Voice via CSW: 07761 715009


16 02, 2017

Ridwan Celebrates a Year at Poundland

By |February 16th, 2017|Categories: Access to Work, CEC Stories, Deaf Employment|0 Comments

One of our SES clients who we helped into work has just celebrated his 1 year anniversary!  Ridwan has been working at Poundland in Dagenham, restocking shelves and assisting in the warehouse.  A local paper went to interview him and you can ready the full story here.

22 11, 2016

Our Suzanne ‘Going that Extra Mile’ with Shaw Trust in Manchester!

By |November 22nd, 2016|Categories: Access to Work, CEC Stories, Deaf Employment|0 Comments

Here at Clarion UK, we are always proud of our Communication and Employment Consultants (CEC) for maintaining a high level of specialist employability service for our Deaf and hard of hearing customers. It was truly heartening when Shaw Trust, one of our key contract partners on the Government’s Work Choice, recently showed their appreciation of our specialist support with positive feedback on one of our key CECs, Suzanne Truelove, and presented her with a surprise card and beautiful flowers in appreciation of the support she has given their Deaf customers!

Manchester Shaw Trust Employment Advisor, June Fitzgerald who has been working with Suzanne for her Deaf customers commented: “Suzanne has gone out of her way to accommodate Shaw Trust and is always flexible when we have to meet deadlines, she is hard working, caring and a pleasure to work with. I can honestly say we couldn’t have been able to work with our Deaf customers without Suzanne’s support. She always goes that extra mile for the customers and Shaw Trust, resulting in job outcomes for FOUR of the five clients she is currently working with! We really value the contribution Suzanne makes to our team and look forward to a long term relationship together to support our clients”

‘Thank you’ card for Suzanne from Shaw Trust Manchester

Our CEC of the moment, Suzanne commented: “I am so pleased that four of the five clients I was supporting have secured employment within the last two months ranging from Support Worker to Pick and Pack for Amazon. Working with Shaw Trust in Manchester has been a great success, June has been very receptive in learning the best working practices for supporting her Deaf jobseekers, and we have had a great working relationship supporting each other in our areas of expertise. All of my clients are profoundly Deaf sign language users, some have additional needs and barriers into employment and would find it difficult to gain meaningful work, however, we have worked together and those that secured work are over the moon!

Suzanne further commented: “It is outcomes like these, and seeing all the hard work that we do in partnership really pays off and that makes me absolutely love my job working as a CEC for Clarion UK

Bob Marsh, Clarion’s UK Business Development Manager who is Deaf himself and pioneered the award-winning CEC provision back in 2009 said “Suzanne is an absolute star and always gives her very best to her Deaf customers. It is immensely pleasing to get feedback like this in reflection of the consistent excellent level of specialist services we are able to offer both the Prime Contractor and their Deaf and hard of hearing customers. We are looking to further extend our provision in forthcoming new Government programmes for 2017 and hope to encourage more feedbacks such as this

If you would like to know more about Clarion UK’s specialist employability support for Deaf and hard of hearing customers please visit our website or alternatively give Bob a call on 01763 209001 or email

18 08, 2016

Window of Opportunity for Ridwan at Poundland!

By |August 18th, 2016|Categories: Access to Work|2 Comments

Ridwan was referred to Clarion UK on the Specialist Employability Support (SES) programme last October, via our contract with Doncaster Deaf Trust, and he has never looked back since!

During his initial weeks of employability support with our specialist Communication and Employment Consultant, Bridget, she supported Ridwan in updating and fine-tuning his CV and having gained a background of his skills and aspirations they then started the all-important job searching activities.  Each standard support session would entail checking vacancies on various websites, e-mail correspondences, make phone calls to employers to follow-up applications, check local newspaper adverts and make new job applications. Ridwan was very proactive and willingly determined to find a job; which really made things a lot easier for Bridget!

Bridget explained “constant interaction between us increasingly aided our professional relationship and I encouraged updates on jobs and interests in the interim periods in between our appointments. I would help Ridwan to complete application forms and we would both check before submitting to the employers and this boosted his chances of success!”

Ridwan’s motivation and dedication to the programme plus his enthusiasm and attitude to gaining employment led to the swift success of an interview at Poundland in Southend-on-Sea in Essex where he was subsequently successful in being offered a position with this national retail chain!

Ridwan commenced his 2 week induction training in February at the Southend store, where he was supported by Clarion UK throughout, whilst waiting for the new Dagenham store to open. The team there were extremely welcoming and with already having a Deaf member of staff employed at this store, they all readily understood Ridwan’s communication barriers and worked enthusiastically together as a team. Ridwan fitted in to his new environment almost immediately, becoming a ‘cheeky chappie’ and highly valued addition to the team!

Lisa Yates, Manager of the Southend-on-Sea branch where Ridwan commenced his training says “Ridwan is a great worker with a brilliant outgoing personality which is one of the key success ingredients to working with Poundland. He is always willing to learn and interacts so well with people, both his colleagues and our customers, even though he is Deaf. He is just so lovely” Ridwan has also encouraged Lisa to express an interest in learning BSL so that she can get back at him with cheeky innuendos in sign language!










Ridwan has since transferred to the new store in his home town in Dagenham and has settled in really well.  Bridget exclaimed: “I’m so pleased Ridwan has secured employment, I wish him the very best of luck and am assured he totally enjoys working in his new role in stock replenishment.  As a CEC, there is a real sense of pride and accomplishment when a job is secured for a client….well done Ridwan, no one deserves it more than you!”

Ridwan’s Dad, Gaphar commented on behalf of the family “after Ridwan completed College and training opportunities we were aware of the challenges he faced on the employment market due to the competitiveness and his hearing difficulties. We met with Bob from Clarion, who is Deaf himself, and he explained about the new SES programme and then we requested that the Jobcentre referred Ridwan.  Our immeasurable thanks go to Bob and his team, we are sure that more Deaf people will gain valuable benefits from their services, as Ridwan certainly did”

The ‘Man of the Moment’ Ridwan had this to say “I am very happy with my new job, even though I have already been here for over 6 months now, time has flown! I have so much more confidence and have made many new friends. The teams here at Poundland have all been very supportive. I also want to thank Clarion UK and Bridget for giving me a new fresh start in life. Without them I wouldn’t be here”

3 08, 2016


By |August 3rd, 2016|Categories: Access to Work|0 Comments

Alex was referred to Ingeus on the Government’s Work Programme by his local Jobcentre in Bradford. Ingeus’ employment advisor, Nadia Saghir was assigned to provide his support but quickly recognised that due to Alex’s Deafness he would require additional specialist support and then enlisted Clarion UK’s employability support for Deaf people.



Suzanne Truelove, a key member of Clarion UK’s national team of Communication and Employment Consultants (CEC) was then assigned to provide the support for Alex, Nadia and any potential employers that they may encounter during the support sessions.  Alex is a very likeable, shy young man who works as a volunteer with The Heart Foundation and studied Horticulture at College and was interested in working within a garden centre environment.  However, due to his shyness, lack of confidence and job searching skills, this was proving difficult for him, but then along came our CEC, Suzanne!

Suzanne commented “When I first met Alex he arrived at his appointment with his mum, as he had done for all his previous meetings with his advisor at Ingeus.  Alex has a severe hearing loss and relies heavily on lip-reading, body language and gestures in order to communicate.  Communicating can be extremely difficult for Alex, which is not only due to his deafness but also his confidence. Therefore, his mum would often accompany Alex to his appointments in order to relay information and answer questions that Alex had difficulty understanding”

Suzanne explained “during the first few meetings I had in-depth conversations with both Alex and his mum, building on their confidence and trust and after only a few sessions Alex was confident enough to attend his appointments independently. I then set about supporting Alex working and increasing on his confidence, interview techniques, job searching and job applications”  Within a short space of time they were successful in gaining an interview at Alex’s local B&Q store.

However, during the interview, Alex struggled to process the interview questions in order to give constructive answers and, although unsuccessful on that occasion, it was nonetheless a building block to work upon for future interviews.

Alex and Suzanne continued tirelessly working on improving his interview skills and went through many mock interviews together but he found it difficult to cognitively put his work ethics, commitment and team working abilities into words, which in turn would make it a challenging aspect for him to be successful at interview. Suzanne further explained “due to this, we had to think of another way in which he could gain employment”

Alex also does voluntary work with The Heart Foundation and they commented that he is a “fantastic worker with excellent work ethics and a good team player”. Suzanne and Alex discussed his role there and how those skills could be transferrable to possible different job roles elsewhere. After careful consideration, Alex declared that he would ideally like to work at Tong Garden Centre; which is a large garden centre a short distance from his home.

Alex then emailed Tong Garden Centre explaining his situation and his difficulties coping with interviews and offered himself on an unpaid work trial as a compromise so they could assess him at work rather than at an interview.  To his delight, the Manager at the garden centre agreed and after just TWO DAYS work trial he impressed them so much they then offered Alex a permanent 16 hours per week job!


Tong Garden Centre where Alex now works

Tong Garden Centre where Alex now works

Nadia was also on hand to support Alex with all his requirements, which included Ingeus paying for a helmet, in order for Alex to cycle to work, and clothing.

Suzanne says “having an excellent relationship with Nadia and Ingeus has enabled us to join up our resources and specialised support which has led to a very successful outcome for Alex”

Nadia commented “Alex has been wonderful to work with, he is polite, punctual and determined and has really tried hard and deserves this opportunity. With a great amount of help from Suzanne from Clarion UK, he had been to a few interviews, built his confidence and now successfully employed by Tong Garden Centre. Working with Suzanne has made it so much easier for him to understand many things. There has been nothing but excellent feedback on Alex’s progress. It has been a great experience for me too”

And lastly, but most importantly, Alex commented “Suzanne was brilliant, I would never have got this job without her help, she is awesome! I love having a job and not having to sign on anymore, I feel very proud of myself. Clarion UK and Ingeus’ services were invaluable to me”