An anonymous article in the Guardian newspaper has revealed how a sign language interpreter feels during the current economic climate, when cuts are affecting the kind of support Deaf people can receive, and changes to how interpreting is funded has led to chaos during court cases.
I’m really sorry, but we have done all we can.” I slowly pick my hands up to tell the 19-year-old eastern European girl in front of me that she is going to have to wipe her eyes and walk back out of the council offices, homeless, hungry and at risk.
The council officer to my left is wearing the same steely, but resigned look that I have seen on the face of every council officer I meet. I tell the deaf client, in sign language, that the appointment is over and watch her face fall. No matter how many times I do this – and it has been hundreds – it still hurts knowing that I am the person to tell them there is no hope left.
When it is over, I smile at the deaf person, who thanks me profusely for doing my job. She tells me that even though the council couldn’t help her get a flat, at least they provided an interpreter for the meeting – that wouldn’t have happened in her own country.
Despite the heavy heart I carry after these assignments, I love my job. I moved into the role quite unexpectedly after meeting a group of deaf children at an event and, after learning the basics, found that I had a real aptitude for sign language. Ten years later, I was able to qualify and started working on a freelance basis.
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
The site exists thanks to our supporters. Check them out below:
- Signature: Leading awarding body for BSL qualifications
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. Find out 7 things deaf people want you to know!
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- BSL Zone: TV programmes in BSL for the Deaf community
- Eyewitness Media: TV and film from a Deaf perspective
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- Signworld: Learn BSL online!
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- Association of Notetaking Professionals: The professional body representing Electronic and Manual Notetakers
- Sign Solutions: communication support, training and translation
- InterpretersLive: On demand BSL video interpretation
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Hearing Choices: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- deafPLUS: BSL advice helpline
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children
- Royal Shakespeare Company: Captioned and BSL interpreted performances (see dates here)
- Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Residential education for deaf children
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Performance Interpreting: BSL interpreting at concerts
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people