British Sign Language

British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreting Services

According to Action on Hearing Loss, there are over 10 million people living in the UK with some form of hearing loss, or one in six of the population. Of these 10 million, more than 800,000 are severely or profoundly Deaf. An estimated 50,000 – 70,000 of these people communicate using British Sign Language, or BSL, as their first or preferred language.

It was recognised as a minority language in 2003 by the UK government, and now has a similar status to that of Welsh or Irish Gaelic. This meant that more funds became available for BSL tutors and interpreters, enabling the language to grow and become more widely used.

Percentage of UK population living with some form of hearing loss
Percentage of UK population living with hearing loss who are severely or profoundly deaf
Percentage severely or profoundly deaf using British Sign Language as their 1st language

According to the Equality Act 2010, Deaf people are not permitted to be treated less favourably than others because of their disability. Therefore, service providers have needed to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that their services are completely accessible, including to users of British Sign Language – for example, through the provision of a sign language interpreter. The Communications Act 2003 made it a legal requirement for at least five percent of programmes to be signed by the end of 2010. The BBC’s catch-up online television service, BBC iPlayer, has a “Sign Zone” where users of BSL can find all relevant programming. The introduction of these Acts has both obliged and enabled companies to reach out to sign language users on an unprecedented scale, meaning that the demand for highly skilled BSL interpreters is on the rise. At Planet Veritas, we can provide you with trained and experienced British Sign Language interpreters to suit your every need, when it is convenient for you.

We fully understand that you may have documents and/or information that is highly confidential. This is why our linguists are obliged to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) when they join our team to ensure that the content of your documents/interpreting assignments remain private, guaranteeing your peace of mind.

Our interpreters

Our British Sign Language interpreters are highly skilled and used to working in a wide variety of situations, including:

  • Medical settings, for example GP and hospital appointments
  • Education
  • Police and legal settings, for example in court
  • Theatre performances
  • Interviews
  • Meetings
  • Tourism settings, for example on guided tours

BSL has its own grammatical structure and syntax, and is not strongly related as a language to spoken English. This can mean that Deaf people can have difficulties in language and literacy development when reading or speaking English as it is a completely different language and many words are not spelled how they are pronounced. Due to the isolated nature of sign language, signers from different UK cities may struggle to understand one another. Nor is BSL intelligible to users of American Sign Language (ASL), sharing only 30% of signs and 44% of cognates.

As well as British Sign Language interpreting, other services that we can provide include:

Sign-Supported English (SSE) interpreting: a professional interpreter will interpret for those using this version of sign language – it is not a language in its own right but more English with signs, using the same syntax and grammatical structure as English.

Lipspeaking: a hearing professional will listen to what has been said and then silently and accurately reproduces the spoken message so that lipreaders can understand it. Lipspeakers can also use facial expressions, gestures and fingerspelling to enhance the lipreader’s understanding.

Deafblind interpreting: a specialised interpreter will place their hands beneath the Deafblind person’s, allowing them to feel the movements and shapes of the signs.

Speech-to-text translation: a verbatim written version of everything that is said between a Deaf and hearing person is reproduced by a skilled professional and displayed on a monitor. This includes sounds like laughter, etc.

BSL <> English translation: this is for videos, DVDs and websites, to provide BSL users with a signed version of the content.

We only use highly qualified, NRCPD-registered professionals, ensuring that you or your customers receive the best possible interpreting experience.

Get in contact today and speak to one of our experienced Project Managers about your BSL interpreting requirements.