What we do

Sign Language Interpreters

Sign language interpreters facilitate communication between people using British Sign Language (BSL) and people speaking English. Interpreters use their skills and knowledge of the two languages, as well as their understanding of any cultural differences, to provide a simultaneous interpretation. They can work in many different settings from one to one and small group meetings to large scale conferences. Interpreters should be registered with the NRCPD, which ensures that they have achieved, or are working towards, the National Occupational Standards.


Translation Work

Written documents can be translated into BSL by Deaf presenters. Examples may be scripts for DVDs or website content.

Information provided in BSL can be translated into a written document. The BSL may be provided live or can be a recording. Examples may be a complaint letter or a dissertation.


Deaf Presenters

Deaf Presenters translate information from written English to Sign Language, for example on web sites.



Lipspeakers convey a speaker’s message to lipreaders using unvoiced speech. This requires the lipspeaker to produce the shapes of the words with exceptional clarity. The lipspeaker also reproduces the rhythm and phrasing of speech as used by the speaker, and supports this with facial expressions and natural gestures. These natural gestures are manual indicators that are readily understandable to people with no knowledge of BSL. However, if the lipreader requires it, the lipspeaker may include fingerspelling or initialisation. This will be negotiated at the start of the assignment.


Interpreters for Deafblind People

Deafblind people (people with a dual sensory loss) communicate in a variety of ways. These include – visual frame BSL, hands on BSL and Deafblind manual signing. Therefore, when booking an interpreter to work in a situation that includes a deafblind person it is important to establish their preferred method of communication.

Deafblind interpreters have received additional training to provide this specialist service.


Speech To Text Reporter (Sometimes known as a Stenographer or Palantypist)

Speech To Text Reporters (STTRs) produce a verbatim record of what is being said using a phonetic keyboard. An STTR can type at 220 words a minute, which allows them to keep up with the speed of speech. The written message is then displayed on a monitor or projected on to a screen, allowing the Deaf person to actively participate in meetings and conferences in real time. The STTR provides a complete transcription of the words spoken, and also environmental sounds (such as laughter or applause).

Electronic Notetakers

Electronic notetakers produce a typed summary of what is spoken, using a laptop computer. The advantage of an electronic notetaker is that they can usually gather more information due to the speed of typing, as compared to writing. Some electronic notetakers use specialist software E.g. Speedtext or Stereotype, this allows for two laptops to be linked meaning that the Deaf client can type their side of the interaction should they wish.


Manual Notetakers

Manual notetakers produce a written summary of what is being said, using pen and paper. The notetaker will highlight important sections of the text and make any necessary links to handouts. Notetakers will also ensure that Deaf clients are aware of any issues that arise during the meeting that are not included in the text.


Remote Interpreting - www.signtranslate.com

Signingworks is working with Sign Translate On-Line Sign Language Interpreting Service. Sign Translate has been developed by Sign Health and provides the medical professional and Deaf client an on demand web link to a qualified interpreter. It does not replace the need for face-to-face interpreters, but is invaluable in times of an emergency, thus giving Deaf BSL users equality of access to primary and secondary healthcare.


Deaf Interpreters/Relay Interpreters

Deaf interpreters work between two or more languages, for example from one sign language to another (such as International Sign Language to British Sign Language) from text to sign language and vice versa; or sign language to Deafblind manual and vice versa.

Deaf people who have grown up using a signed language as their first language are often best placed to communicate with other Deaf people who have an idiosyncratic use of language. Therefore, Deaf interpreters may also occasionally assist with the communication of another Deaf person who has atypical language use or who is experiencing mental ill-health.

Deaf professionals are sometimes called upon to work in teams with hearing interpreters to ensure the best communication outcome.  For example, a Deaf interpreter may interpret into BSL from a presenter using ASL (American Sign Language), where the BSL is then interpreted into spoken English by a hearing BSL/English Interpreter.  This sequence is known as a relay and the interpreters forming the middle link in the chain are sometimes referred to as relays or Relay Interpreters.


BSL Training

If you are interested in learning sign language, please contact us for additional information


Deaf Awareness Training

Deaf awareness training is for companies with Deaf/Hard of Hearing clients or staff members. Our training provides staff with the knowledge, skills and confidence to work with deaf people.


Bespoke Interpreter Training

We offer a variety of training packages to interpreters as well as mentoring and supervision opportunities.

SigningWorks is no longer offering NVQ Level 6 Interpreter training. However, we have passed our programme to a brand new training company - Interpreting Pathways.

Interpreting Pathways will be offering interpreter training in Bristol from autumn 2017 led by highly experienced interpreter and interpreter trainer Sarah Haynes. If you would like to find out more details, please contact [email protected].