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Sign Language Interpreting Service Update – December 2021

10th December 2021


Thank you for your full and honest engagement with us over recent months.  Based on your feedback and what interpreters have told us we know that the proposed Business Services Organisation (BSO) model to employ interpreters to deliver a face to face interpreting service will no longer work.

Why?  Because

  • We know that the remote and face to face sign language services are equally important to you and the COVID-19 pandemic has given us the chance to consider how important it is to provide both these services together.
  • HSCB and BSO do not have the technical abilities to provide the remote sign language interpreting service. This can only be done by external experts.
  • Listening to everyone has also made us realise that we want to provide a range of other interpreting services including lip reading, electronic note taking, Deafblind interpreting.

So what now?

Because HSCB and BSO do not have the ability to do this, we would like to ask an external expert to provide all of these interpreting services via a procurement process.

What does procurement mean? 

This means that we will buy in the interpreting services from an external provider who is an expert in delivering sign language interpreting for Deaf people.  The provider would work closely with us to deliver the things that you have said are important such as:

  • Access to skilled and experienced interpreters;
  • A transparent and reliable booking process, that gives confidence that interpreters have been booked for appointments;
  • Guaranteed and reliable cover for all appointments across Northern Ireland
  • Accessible and highly confidential methods to give positive feedback or make complaints where necessary;
  • Continuity of interpreter when possible for complex health issues such as mental health appointments;
  • Choice of male/female interpreters when possible for sensitive matters;

The new service will help Health and Social Care Staff to secure interpreters in a timely manner by using one provider.

We want to provide you with assurances that this will empower you by improving your access, choice and interpreting options to Health and Social Care services in Northern Ireland.

Thank you again for your feedback. We will continue to update you with next steps and keep you involved.