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Sign of progress

An online training programme aims to help increase access to language support for the deaf community

It is estimated that there are 50,000 people in the UK who use British Sign Language (BSL) as their first or preferred language. Although they are competent in their use of the language, it can still be difficult to communicate effectively in everyday situations – because others don’t use or understand it. Activities such as going to a doctor’s appointment, attending meetings at work or interacting with council departments can be a real challenge. Without the support of a BSL interpreter, deaf people are often unable to access everyday life equally. And this is something that Action on Hearing Loss wants to help change.

With support from Nominet Trust, Action on Hearing Loss has developed an online NVQ Level 6 programme in both BSL and BSL-English interpreting in the hope of dramatically increasing the number of qualified BSL interpreters in the UK.

Online training accessible to all

The concept of developing and delivering training through an online programme is designed to enable more people to undertake the training, hopefully resulting in a greater overall number of qualified BSL interpreters and a wider geographical spread of availability.

Interest on both fronts

Aspiring interpreters will be able to take advantage of a user-friendly, cost-effective way of training and achieving the NVQ qualification. The pilot programme has already generated a significant level of demand, with 10 individuals (four more than initially planned) enrolled on the online NVQ programme for BSL and BSL-English interpreting. They will receive their results at the end of 2011.

Based on the success of the pilot programme, the charity hopes many more students will be able to follow in their footsteps and that the course can be rolled out to make training more accessible to everyone, ultimately resulting in the greater availability of fully qualified interpreters to help people with hearing loss with their everyday communication challenges.

Action on Hearing Loss is the new name for RNID. It’s the charity working for a world where hearing loss doesn’t limit or label people, where people value their hearing enough to look after it and where people with all levels of hearing loss, including those who are profoundly deaf, are supported and not isolated.