Deaf communication professionals website

30 January 2020

For several years I’ve been toying with the idea of setting up a second website, featuring deaf communication professionals. This would encompass the varied roles which deaf people fulfil when facilitating communication. For example:

ASL/BSL interpreter
BSL/International Sign interpreter
English text to BSL (prepared) translator & vice versa
English text to BSL (live) interpreter & vice versa
BSL or English text to modified sign & vice versa
Hands on, from BSL to tactile/visual frame BSL

Such a site could drive work towards the best visual communication professionals, and possibly increase demand for an extension of the range of qualifications available to them.

I’m not expressing a view about whether deaf people are uniquely fitted for roles. It’s more a reflection of reality. Roles could be filled by professionals who are not audiologically deaf, but they’re not my primary concern here.

The website would identify competencies & relevant qualifications, rather than domains, as does my current site of BSL/English interpreters. I’d expect all communication professionals to have DBS checks and Professional Indemnity Insurance.

A major obstacle is that there aren’t qualifications for all these roles. There are people who are NRCPD-registered with a translation qualification who pass this off as a qualification to work in courts, but it’s not. And the possession of a qualification may not automatically command the respect of peers, as is true of the BSL/English Interpreting qualification!

Even when a qualification exists, it’s common for Deaf communication professionals to say that the cost of getting a qualification & registering with NRCPD is not worth it, because registration doesn’t necessarily lead to paid work which justifies the outlay.

So how would I decide who goes on the site? This is the tricky part!

My current interpreters website started from me having a paper list of decent interpreters I’d worked with, and it grew to the website, based on my own judgements. Since I retired in 2016 I’ve relied completely on recommendations from listed interpreters, backed by support from deaf clients. For the proposed new site, where do I find a core of well-regarded deaf interpreters who are willing to stand up and express judgements about their colleagues, and thereby get the ball rolling?

I’ve discussed the concept of the site with several deaf people who work as TV/website interpreters/translators, court interpreters/explainers (I don’t know the best terminology for this role; see below), conference interpreters, etc. They like the concept but baulk at the idea of publicly endorsing or excluding their colleagues. Understandably, they don’t want to stick their necks out!

A controversial way to get the ball rolling might be to get recommendations from interpreters on my site. They’re out there, seeing the expertise of deaf colleagues, but it feels a bit weasley to have hearing people exercising judgements about deaf colleagues.

I’d appreciate feedback on:

The value of having a deaf communication professionals’ site

How to get the ball rolling

What do you call someone who renders BSL into a bespoke form of visual communication?

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