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British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters

Learn how a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter can help deaf BSL users communicate and how to book one.

BSL involves a combination of: 

  • hand shapes and movements
  • lip patterns 
  • facial expressions 
  • and shoulder movements. 

It has its own grammar and is structured in a completely different way from English. 

With over 200 communication support providers in the UK, it’s important to always choose one that only uses registered communication professionals. That way, you can be confident that the communication professional has the relevant qualifications, knowledge, and skills.

How to book a BSL interpreter

Action Deafness is our recommended provider of BSL interpreters. It is the leading deaf-led charity in the UK, who we have previously partnered.

The experienced bookings team at Action Deafness will work with you to facilitate single or repeat appointments and connect you with fully qualified and experienced communication professionals. 

To find out more and to make a booking please visit Action Deafness or email enquiries@actiondeafness.org.uk

What BSL interpreters do

BSL interpreters allow communication between deaf sign language users and hearing people. In Great Britain, this is usually between British Sign Language (BSL) and English, but in Northern Ireland, Irish Sign Language (ISL) is also used. 

Sign language interpreters are regulated by the National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD) or the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters (SASLI) in Scotland. Registered interpreters must respect confidentiality and stay completely impartial.

Types of sign language interpreters

There are 2 types of sign language interpreter: 

  1. Registered sign language interpreter (RSLI) 
  1. Trainee sign language interpreter (TSLI). 

By using either an RSLI or an TSLI, you can be confident they: 

  • have met the required standards in training and competence according to their level 
  • follow the NRCPD or SASLI Code of Conduct 
  • are subject to a formal complaints process 
  • have an enhanced disclosure certificate 
  • are covered by professional indemnity insurance. 

TSLIs may have limited skills and experience and shouldn’t be used in certain situations, such as when someone has a mental health problem and needs an interpreter. 

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Page last updated: 25 October 2023

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