Jen Dodds: On something that’s boring, but really, really important – the National Framework Agreement (BSL)

Posted on December 9, 2014

So today, I’ve got something that’s a bit boring to tell you, but please don’t go away! Sometimes the boring things in life are really important.

Actually, when I was told about this, my brain went to sleep, and then it suddenly woke up and went “WHAT?!”… so I thought it was important to share.

To watch this article in BSL, click play below.

Today’s subject of great importance is…

The National Framework Agreement, which most people haven’t heard of.

So what’s it about? It’s from Crown Commercial Services, which is the Government department which sells big contracts to provide Government services.

What’s this got to do with Deaf people?


The Government wants a big interpreting contract to cover the whole of the UK, with all interpreters provided by one or two companies.

This covers everything. It could affect Access to Work, the NHS, courts, the police, social work, education – everything.

Did you know about this? If not, why not? It seems a weird kind of thing to keep a secret.

But maybe it’s a good thing?

Perhaps you think having all interpreters provided by a big contract would be a good idea; a nice and tidy, simple solution?

Not so.

I’ve been told that the draft specifications say that “interpreters” should have Levels 1-3 BSL!

They must be joking – people with Level 1 BSL often struggle to discuss their favourite colours, never mind interpret at NHS appointments!

Also, apparently it doesn’t say that interpreters have to be NRCPD registered, meaning they won’t be properly qualified or anything.

So, we’re looking at untrained, unqualified basic signers being brought in to interpret all over the UK… and we didn’t know this!?

It’s all supposed to start in February 2015.

Why is this happening?

To save money, of course! We all know how much our Government loves doing that!

So, what next?!

I honestly don’t know.

I’m hoping that deaf / interpreting organisations are going to tell me that they’re challenging this and sorting it out…

Jen Dodds is a Contributing Editor for The Limping Chicken. When she’s not looking after chickens or children, Jen can be found translating, proofreading and editing stuff over at Team HaDo Ltd ( On Twitter, Jen is @deafpower.

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