Language Firm Aims to Improve Access to Quality BSL Service

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Language Line Services, the global market leader in interpretation and translation services, is taking steps to widen access to highly qualified British Sign Language Interpreters across the United Kingdom via a newly awarded NHS framework contract.

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Recent statistics published by Action on Hearing Loss* show that nearly 1 million people in the UK are severely or profoundly deaf, and more than 10 million people have some form of hearing loss.

British Sign Language support can be crucial to the deaf community, yet access to highly qualified interpreters has historically been patchy and inconsistent. One organisation that is committed to widening access to high quality BSL interpreters is Language Line Services, who have recently been named as one of a small number of suppliers on a new NHS Shared Business Services framework contract for interpreting and translation services.

The organisation has a large pool of highly qualified BSL interpreters that are directly recruited from the NRCPD database, the body that regulates communication professionals who work with deaf and deaf blind people and sets standards of professional practice. They believe that providing BSL interpreters directly, rather than via a sub-contractor, enables them to provide a more transparent and high quality service.

An area that often comes under scrutiny is the level of certification possessed by British Sign Language interpreters:

“When it comes to providing interpreters in sectors like the NHS and local government, the skills and qualifications of the individuals involved are crucial”, says Simon Yoxon-Grant, Sales and Marketing Director of Language Line Services. He continues, “Any lack of understanding can have extremely serious consequences, which is why all our interpreters are qualified to the highest level and undergo a rigorous recruitment process before they start working with us”.

The NHS framework enables any public sector organisation to secure language support under a single contractual agreement that guarantees both the quality and value for money of the services provided.

Under the contract, Language Line Services are approved to supply foreign language telephone and face-to-face interpreting services, in addition to British Sign Language and video interpreting.

The NHS Shared Business Services contract has a history of delivering consistent value and offers public sector organisations a simple, robust, and contractually compliant means of procuring language services from a pre-approved list of organisations without incurring the significant expense associated with a dedicated procurement exercise.

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Graham Rigby

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