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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




19 10, 2018

How To Get Your Voice Heard: Comments, Complaints & Feedback

By |October 19th, 2018|Categories: Partner Bulletin, Professional Development|0 Comments

Listening & Engaging

Over Summer we engaged with you, our partners, in London and Birmingham in face to face forums, through Survey Monkey and during 1:1 meetings. One of the most important messages we received was that you weren’t quite sure how to comment, complain or give feedback; in your words “How to get my voice heard”. Our name “Clarion” comes  from the Latin word for “clear” because we want to be clear, honest and transparent about what we do and how we do it. Here we’ve gathered some information about our complaints process.

How Do We Deal With Complaints?

We deal with complaints quickly, in detail, in plain English, confidentially and hopefully to your satisfaction. These are the standards that we work to:

  • Acknowledging all complaints within 24 hours of receiving them.
  • Responding to all complaints within 1-3 working days, 10 days for complex ones.
  • Being courteous, sympathetic and respectful at all times.
  • Providing feedback on progress where it is appropriate to do so.
  • Ensuring all Clarion UK staff are trained in and familiar with this policy and procedure.
  • Providing you an appeals process outside Clarion UK, whether that is Newham Language Shop (for legal bookings) or Cambridge HR solutions.
  • All feedback is treated with 100% confidence and has no relationship to how we assign bookings to our partners.
  • If you are a British Sign Language user, we have 3 staff who are fluent in BSL and would be happy to talk over Facetime or Skype.

Why Are We Doing This?

We can only grow and learn if we grow and learn with you.  We want you to feel connected with us, part of the team, know that you have a voice and know that we are here to listen when you have concerns and worries.

We have a lovely office in the Cambridgeshire countryside with an open-door and a welcoming team. Please feel free to pop in and meet us, the kettle is always on.

How Can You Contact Us?

Call:  01763209001

Welcome Pack

Our new welcome pack lists key people to talk to if you are unhappy with our service or the way your complaint has been handled. You can download or browse it here.

Follow us on Facebook, TwitterLinkedin Instagram to keep up to date.
28 08, 2018

Partner Survey & Focus Group Feedback

By |August 28th, 2018|Categories: Partner Bulletin, Professional Development|0 Comments

Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete our Partner Survey or attend one of the Focus Groups we ran in London and Birmingham. It was fantastic meeting you and the feedback we received has been useful in improving how we work. As a result, we are making some changes.


Five things we are doing differently…


You said:

  1. “Clarion UK only accept NRCPD Registered BSL/Interpreters”

And we are now working with Interpreters who are registered with RBSLI following a meeting between RBSLI and the Ministry of Justice.

  1. We want webinars as part of the induction process”

In the Autumn we will be running monthly webinars for all new partners. This will be a chance to discover information about the company as well as discuss our Terms & Conditions and working practices.

  1. “I feel unsure and isolated in my role”

We are in the process of setting up a buddy system, so you can meet with colleagues to discuss, share ideas and support each other.

  1. “I would like more sophisticated reporting”

We are introducing a new Microsoft Dynamics system from September which will be rolled out in phases going into the New Year, including a smoother bookings and invoicing process. Beth Jamieson will be sending out a separate email with a full explanation of the new system.

  1.  “We would like to be able to use online timesheets”

Once the new system is in place, it will have full capability for electronic signed timesheets on smartphones and tablets. (This is being rolled out with the Education Sector first).


Five things we will do more of…


You said:

  1. “70% of us don’t feel like part of the Clarion UK team.”

We want you to feel like part of the team and will be keeping you up to date on new staff members, training and job opportunities.

  1. “I want to know if you have met with Student Finance England to discuss recent changes to travel” 

We are working with 27 agencies in the UK to tackle this as well as talking to Student Finance England to discuss this.

  1. “52% of us don’t feel that our work efforts are recognised/appreciated”

We will be doing more to recognise and celebrate the hard work that you continue to deliver with Thank You cards and writing up success stories (with your permission).

  1. “We want Clarion UK to be more involved in our Continuing Professional Development (CPD)”

We will be supporting you in your CPD, sourcing face to face seminars, training and online courses. This will be starting as soon as possible following discussions with DSA QAG.

  1. “We would like a greater volume of work”

Our sales team is working across the UK trying to win work in Employment, Health, Legal and Education sectors as well as develop new services such as remote Speech To Text Reporting.

For detailed feedback, take a look at our 12 page report or download it here Partner-Survey-and-Focus-Group-Feedback-August-2018.pdf (41 downloads)

Partner Survey and Focus Group Feedback
If you kindly completed the Partner Survey online, just drop me a line at to let me know you took part and I will enter you into a prize draw.


You can follow us on FacebookTwitter, Linkedin or Instagram to keep up to date on vacancies, developments, events and current news.
30 07, 2018

First UK Workshop for Language Tutors (Specialist Support Professionals for Deaf Students)

By |July 30th, 2018|Categories: Deaf Education, Professional Development|0 Comments


Saturday 8 September, 10am-4pm


Livesey House, University of Central Lancashire, Preston


Specialist Support Professionals here at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) are hosting the first-ever UK-wide workshop specifically for SSPs working with Deaf students. We are excited that this is a chance for members of our often-isolated profession to come together as a group from across the country for the first time. Our aims for this workshop are to network; share good practices; explore professional dilemmas, boundaries and ethics; discuss recent scholarly research into our role; examine issues related to remote working; and talk about administrative concerns, including those associated with DSA-QAG.


Our draft programme includes the following:

  • Presentation by UCLan’s language support co-ordinator Lynne Barnes on her research into the work of language tutors/SSPs for deaf students
  • Small-group activity to discuss the SSP role (experiences, successes, dilemmas, highs, lows), followed by feedback to the whole group
  • Presentation about working remotely, by UCLan SSPs Laura Snell and Jenny Webster
  • Q&A about DSA-QAG issues
  • Large-group discussion about setting up an online/jiscmail forum and our next steps and/or future meetings


There is no fee for the workshop. We will have coffee, tea and biscuits available. Lunch is not provided, but Livesey House is centrally located in Preston with many places nearby to buy lunch, or you may prefer to bring your own lunch.


CPD certificates will be provided at the end of the workshop.

How to Register?

If you would like to join us, please email Lynne Barnes ( to register your interest.  If you have any ideas for what else you would like the workshop to cover, please let us know.

We look forward to hearing from you and meeting with you in September.

Words by UCLan LTs/SSPs

21 05, 2018

Recruiting for an Employment Bookings Coordinator/Administrator

By |May 21st, 2018|Categories: Careers, Deaf Employment, Professional Development|0 Comments

Salary: £22,000

Hours: Full-time

Benefits: Pension, gym membership, training and development opportunities.

About us

With over 16 years of sustained growth, and new contracts securing significant business for many years to come, there has never been a better time to join the UK’s most successful interpreting and employment support services for Deaf and Disabled People.

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 and is rapidly expanding. Deaf people are simply at the heart of everything that we do, meeting their needs and requirements because we know how to.

Our Values

There is no such thing as ‘hard to reach’ groups: they are simply “out of reach’ to mainstream institutions” we turn our values into action by helping clients and organisations to break down barriers”

The Role

To meet new and increasing contractual demands, we are now looking to recruit a full-time Bookings Coordinator/Administrator to work within our Employment Services Sector reporting directly to our Head of Specialist Employment Services.

Minimum key skills requirements:

  • Experienced in data processing information to record and create bookings on systems
  • Administrative and record keeping skills to help meet contractual obligations
  • Effective communication skills and able to deal with challenges in a calm and approachable manner
  • Keen to thrive within a highly active and busy team

In exchange you will be given:

  • Access to all necessary training
  • Resources at your disposal to manage your duties effectively
  • Full support of the employment sector team

How to Apply

Interested in this exciting and highly rewarding role? Then please email your latest CV to Clarion UK’s Head of Specialist Employment Services, Bob Marsh  with a covering letter detailing your current skills and experience and why you feel you are the right person for the role.

The closing date is 5pm Friday 8thJune 2018 with interviews to be confirmed for week commencing 2ndJuly 2018.

Clarion UK is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes applications from people with disabilities.

26 02, 2018

Partner Bulletin 16 – New Roles, Recruitment and Upcoming Training

By |February 26th, 2018|Categories: Careers, Legal, Partner Bulletin, Professional Development, Uncategorized|0 Comments

A Note from Sarah, your new Partner Manager

Some of you may know me from co-ordinating bookings across the legal, health and education sectors. My new role is Partner Manager and I am excited to be involved in the ongoing development of Clarion UK and looking to expand our freelancer team to meet the growing needs of our clients. In the next few months I will be:

  • Working with yourselves, keeping you up-to-date on the company, providing support in the required compliance needed for our audits and listening and acting upon your feedback.
  • Developing training to support you in your professional development.
  • Sourcing new freelancers; interpreters, language service professionals, CECs and support workers for our students in areas of the UK where we can’t currently meet the demand.

Recruitment – Win £50!

We are offering an incentive of £50 if you refer a friend to us who we place into an assignment. If you refer a friend, ask your friend to mention your name when they submit their application. Once they complete their first booking with us, I will contact you and £50 will be processed into your account.

We are currently recruiting for freelancer roles for BSL Interpreters and Deaf Relay Interpreters and continuing to recruit for our student support roles.

Please see below links for Job Descriptions:
BSL Interpreters

Deaf Relay Interpreters

Student Support Roles

Upcoming Training

Lipspeaking Training

Manchester Centre for Deaf Studies will be running a course leading to the Signature Level 3 Certificate in Lipspeaking in Manchester. It will be starting March 17th and 18th and will run for approximately 12 months. Attendance will be about 1 weekend per month and the course will involve study and practice at home as well as attendance at lipreading classes.

If you would like to have more information about this course please contact:

or visit:

Visit the Association of Lipspeakers (ALS) if you have a passion for communicating with deaf people and believe you can make a difference.

Police Interview Interpreting Workshop

A workshop designed for interpreters covering police investigative interviewing techniques.

Date: 21st March
Location: Birmingham
Price: £120

“The day, which will include inputs on both witness and suspect interviews, will finish with an interactive practical exercise covering topical issues drawn from live cases. This fully packed day will include time to network and will be facilitated by experienced police trained advanced interviewers with particular experience of working with interpreters.

Certificates for CPD will be provided following the event

Please e-mail for a booking form or for further information.

For more details at

Legal Interpreting Training

Mike Unsworth is running a Legal Training taster session in June, 2018. Mike has 20 years of interpreting within the legal domain. He has worked in all areas of Legal interpreting including Police; Magistrates Courts; Crown Courts; Coroners Courts; Royal Courts of Justice; The Old Bailey; Immigration and Extradition hearings.

Date: 23rd June 2018, 10.00 – 16.30
Location: Bury Town Football Club Ram Meadow, Cotton Lane, Bury Saint Edmunds IP33 1XT
Price: £75 per person
Lunch, tea, coffee and snacks provided.
Spaces are limited.

Please contact to confirm your place or read our blog for more information.

If you have any questions, you can contact me at:
01763 207903

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date.
26 02, 2018

Legal Interpreting Training: 23rd June 2018

By |February 26th, 2018|Categories: Legal, Professional Development|1 Comment

Have you considered further training on working as an Interpreter within the legal domain? Mike Unsworth is running a Legal Training taster session in June, 2018.
Mike has 20 years of interpreting within the legal domain. He has worked in all areas of Legal interpreting including Police; Magistrates Courts; Crown Courts; Coroners Courts; Royal Courts of Justice; The Old Bailey; Immigration and Extradition hearings.
Having interpreted the full spectrum of crime cases and within high security settings during his career, Mike draws on this wealth of experience in his workshops. He has been Head of Interpreting for a leading national Interpreting agency and has mentored and supervised a large team of interpreters whilst in that post.


Date: 23rd June 2018

Time: 10.00 – 16.30

Location: Bury Town Football Club

Ram Meadow, Cotton Lane Bury Saint Edmunds IP33 1XT

Lunch, tea, coffee and snacks provided.

Price: £75 per person

Spaces are limited.

Please contact to confirm your place.

Mike is freelance, specialising in all areas of the legal domain and regularly acts as Lead Interpreter facilitating for teams working high profile cases.

Having been involved in consultancy and training for several years now, he takes pride in putting something back into the profession. In doing so, Mike offers mentoring and is always happy to support colleagues within the profession as and when required.


Bury Town Football Club is conveniently located just 15 minutes walk from the Railway Station.

There is ample on site parking for 15 cars but should more parking be required the Rams Meadow Car Park on Cotton Lane, Bury Saint Edmunds IP33 1XT is just £2.30 for the day.

Please advise on booking of any special requests regarding buffet lunch requirements and we will do our best to accommodate these. As it is there will be veggie options available.

Tea, coffee and biscuits will be available before and during the day.

Agenda for the day

09.30 -10.00


‘I do solemnly sincerely…’
The Interpreter Oath – to Swear on the Bible or to Affirm…that is the question..?

Court settings and the roles of the Sign Language Interpreter?

Positioning for the Interpreter or a team of interpreters, the role of the Deaf Relay Interpreter and Deaf Intermediaries?

Assertiveness and control of the courtroom environment

Lunch 12.15 – 13.00

Jargon busting, understanding the intent and meaning of cross examination, nuances, subtlety, and ambiguity of Counsel?

Practical exercises ‘today your honour I’m going to be a Court Sign Language Interpreter!’ Q & A session and discuss options for follow up workshop.

Finish 16.30

For more information, contact

28 11, 2017

Introduction for Lipspeakers working in Courts and other Legal Settings

By |November 28th, 2017|Categories: Legal, Professional Development, Uncategorized|2 Comments

(This course has been approved by Clarion UK and has been designed to enable lipspeakers to meet the new Clarion UK standards.)


This is an intensive 3-day training programme aimed at lipspeakers.

The course will be run by Byron Campbell who has a long standing working relationship with lipspeakers. Byron works as a BSL interpreter in courts and elsewhere. He also currently works with Clarion UK as a consultant to run training courses for BSL interpreters who wish to update their skills so that they can meet the new Clarion UK requirements for court interpreting and legal work. (Clarion UK is the main contractor for all BSL interpreting and lipspeaking within HM courts and legal services. Clarion UK has recently reviewed its standards for all interpreters including BSL interpreters and lipspeakers wanting to work in courts and recommends they all have appropriate training to work in these areas.)

We are very pleased that Byron’s team will uniquely include a barrister and a solicitor as they will help to provide attendees with an excellent in-depth learning experience about lipspeaking in courts and in other legal settings. In addition, there will also be many opportunities for attendees to learn from each other by sharing their experiences of lipspeaking in courts and in other legal settings. Dilys Palin, who has a long experience of lipspeaking in this field, will be the lipspeaking facilitator.

Byron has now managed to find a court setting for this course which is extremely good news as this should provide a very appropriate learning environment.


Course Aims:

The aims of the course are:

To provide lipspeakers with an understanding of some of the issues and dilemmas that may arise when lipspeaking in courts and other legal settings and outline some of the coping strategies that may be available to them.

To help lipspeakers better understand and deal with court/barrister questioning techniques and styles.

To give lipspeakers an opportunity to practise their skills in a ‘live’ situation and get feedback on their work 2.


Course Structure

Day One

This day will be presentations on theory and issues in relation to working in court settings. We will focus on procedures, expectations and achieving the highest quality service for our clients.

Day Two

Participants will go through a series of simulated scenarios and exercises and be given feedback on their work from the barrister, solicitor and an experienced practitioner. All of the practical exercises will be video recorded and the course participants will then have a copy of their work for later analysis and reflection.

Day Three

This is a feedback day and the course participants will have an opportunity to gain feedback on the exercises from day 2 as well as discuss each other’s work with a view to developing and improving their skills and coping strategies.


Dates: Monday 26th – Wednesday 28th March 2018

Cost: This course is non-profit making course and will cost £300

Venue: The course will be held in Birmingham


Expression of interest:

Please reply to Manchester Centre for Deaf Studies as soon as possible to secure your place. It would be very helpful if you could let us know by 8th December 2017 if you want to attend this course.

As the legal team requires a large deposit before the course the deposit will be £100. This will not be asked for until we know that there are enough people.


For further information contact: Manchester Centre for Deaf Studies


Tel: 0161 832 0444


Postal address:

Manchester Centre for Deaf Studies

PO Box 319


M21 3DG


Office address:

Manchester Centre for Deaf Studies

Mauldeth House (Entrance via Nell Lane)

Mauldeth Road West



M21 7R

14 07, 2017

Partner Bulletin Week 1

By |July 14th, 2017|Categories: Partner Bulletin, Professional Development, Stories|0 Comments

Thanks to all our suppliers and partners, Clarion UK is having its busiest year, driving sustained growth of over 100 bookings per day with a 24 hour turnaround time and with 98-100% fulfilment.  We have also had three audits from the Ministry of Justice, Department of Education and Department of Work and Pensions.  Now Summer is here, we have time to turn our heads to the Autumn and plans for future growth. 

In order to achieve our vision and dreams, we need to improve the way that we communicate with you and what we ask of you.  We will therefore be sending out on a weekly basis; news about the company, new contracts that we have won, company and contract performance,  training, information about average charges, pay rate increases in some areas, supplier fees changes over the years and how we are using technology to communicate and deliver our services.   We will also be letting you know about what we need from you to ensure that we

  1. Have the best vetted and experienced team and
  2. Have a finance department that runs at full throttle – with money in the bank so that you get paid on time throughout the year. 

We need feedback from yourselves as well and we take it very seriously.  You can contact us through all the normal ways and also through our feedback site here – its’s just 6 easy clicks.

Finally, we will be changing the way we talk about you.  We have all these different terms: 

And, frankly, for a company with clarity at the heart of what we do, we are getting more and more confused and so are our clients.  From now on, when we speak to people, you will be, simply, our partners. As a result of your service, flexibility and professionalism we hope we can take our partnership from one that is good, to one that is best in class.  Thank You and here’s to the future. 

1 06, 2017

Specialist Training Courses for Interpreters Working in Legal Domains | Round II

By |June 1st, 2017|Categories: Legal, Professional Development|0 Comments

Clarion UK are pleased to announce our second series of high quality, specialist training courses for BSL/English interpreters working in legal domains. If you didn’t get a chance to apply when we first conducted this course last year, now you can. This course includes: Interpreting in Police Settings, Interpreting for the Courts and Interpreting for Mental Health Tribunals.

These intensive 2 and 3-day training programmes are aimed at interpreters with at least 3 years post-qualifying experience. Courses are being run in conjunction and with the support of Leicestershire Police, Barristers with a range of experience of working in criminal and family courts and professionals with extensive experience in the mental health field.

The aims of the courses are to;

  • provide interpreters with an understanding of police, court and mental health tribunal procedures and current legislation,
  • help interpreters better understand police and court questioning techniques and styles, and
  • give interpreters an overview of the roles and responsibilities of; the various people involved when working with the police, courts and tribunals.

In the police and court courses interpreters will go through a series of simulated scenarios and exercises and be given feedback on their work from experienced interpreters and others involved in the role-play scenarios.

The course participants will also have an opportunity to look at each other’s work with a view to developing and improving their interpreting skills and strategies.

All of the practical exercises will be video recorded and the course participants will then have a copy of their work for later analysis and reflection.

Court training courses will be provided by a variety of skilled and experienced interpreters led by Byron Campbell. There will be a range of other highly skilled and experienced professionals delivering the training, including barristers who have extensive experience of representing their clients in Court, such as Anne Williams.

In addition DS Emma Gilbert from Leicestershire Police will be working with us on a new Interpreter Police Course.

We will also be delivering Mental Health Tribunal Training in conjunction with St Andrews Hospital in Northampton who will allow us access to parts of the hospital used in a Tribunal situation and input from members of their staff which have many years’ experience of working with the Deaf in this environment.

Dates are as follows:

Topic Dates Venue Cost: 

Associate training reduced by 33%

4th, 5th, 6th October



Associate training reduced by 33%

18th, 19th, 20th October

Reading Magistrates Court (court room)


Associate training reduced by 33%

Mental Health Tribunals 




Associate training reduced by 33%




Associate training reduced by 33%


Deaf Interpreting, Lipspeaking, SSCAT, AIT and Employment Tribunals, Probation and Prisons, Deafblind interpreting are all planned and dates are to be confirmed.

Interpreters wishing to book a place on these courses should apply to Lorna Fairborn at Clarion UK and complete the required application form.  Places are limited on these courses so apply early.