BSL Interpreting and Other Special Disability Communication Professionals

The challenge of communication extends beyond the realm of language barriers and coincides with the difficulties that exist when communicating with the deaf and impaired community.

Language Empire recognises this and thus provides a range of non spoken communication services including but not limited to British Sign Language.

n-communication services provided include:

  • Sign Supported English
  • Finger Spelling
  • Note takers (Electronic and Manual)
  • Speech to Text Reporters
  • Lip Speaking
  • Other Deaf blind Communicators

All public and private sector organisations, NGOs and Charities are obligated under the Disability Discrimination Act to ensure their services are accessible to disabled people and by utilizing the services provided by Language Empire, this is very much achievable.

Interpreters work in a variety settings including:

  • conferences
  • courts of law
  • Hospitals
  • job interviews
  • media events
  • medical appointments
  • meetings
  • Schools
  • social services
  • theatres
  • training sessions
  • And many more!

Language Empire only recruits BSL and special disability interpreters who are fully qualified and experienced and are registered with the `National Register of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People.’
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This ensures quality in our services eliminating the possibility of any compromise in our service efficiency.

Sign Language

This form of communication adopts the use of gestures, facial expression and body language in order to convey messages. People who are deaf or have hearing impairments use this visual means of communicating whereby in Britain, the most common form is called British Sign Language (BSL). BSL has its own grammar which is not related to the spoken English Language. Having been recognised officially as a language in 2003, approximately 70,000 people in the UK use BSL as their preferred language.

Sign Supported English

Sign Supported English (SSE) although very similar to Sign Language as it uses the same signs as BSL, the key difference is that the structure and grammar of SSE is based on the spoken English Language whereas the former did not.

Finger spelling

Finger spelling uses solely hand movements in order to spell words and is closely linked to Sign language. Finger spelling however is not a language as it does not consist of its own grammar or syntax, rather it is used to spell out words. These words can be those of which do not have a sign such as names and places, words that the signer does not know the sign for or be used to clarify a sign.

As finger spelling spells out words instead of using gestures, it is possible to communicate via finger spelling alone if the full alphabet is known. However it would mean spelling out every single word which would be a very laborious process and thus is not commonly used for general conversations.


Makaton uses signs and symbols in order to facilitate communication. Makaton is used to support spoken language with the additional use of signs and symbols. Users are mainly adults and children with learning disabilities and communication problems. This visual way of communicating helps to encourage language development, i.e. putting words together. Makaton helps understanding, giving the child or adult an extra visual clue. Makaton is an internationally recognised communication programme and is used in over 40 countries worldwide.

Deaf Blind Manual

The Deaf Blind Manual is the best way to communicate with someone who is both deaf and blind. The English Deaf Blind Manual Alphabet is based on two- hand manual alphabet used by many sighted deaf people. This form of communication involves forming letter symbols on the palm of a deaf blind person’s hand. Similar to finger spelling, each letter is represented by a sign or place on the hand.

Lip Reader

Lip reading is a method of communication used by Deaf and hard of hearing people. This method visually interprets the movements of the lips, face and tongue alongside observing the overall context and stress of the speech.

Lip Speaker

A lip speaker is a hearing person professionally trained to speak in an accurate manner that enables a deaf and hearing impaired individual to easily lip read.

The lip speaker will use clear lip patterns and produce clearly the shape of words in order for the deaf person to lip read easily.

The speech will be assisted with facial expression, natural gesture, flow and rhythm. Lip speakers can also use their voice in cases where the lip reader may benefit from any residual hearing.

Speech to Text Reporter

Speech-to-Text Reporters (STTRs) provide professional communication support for deaf and hard of hearing people.
STTRs listen to what is being said and convert this to text on a screen producing a verbatim record i.e. word for word account.
A complete translation is provided whereby every spoken word with the addition of (if relevant) environmental sounds, laughter, applause etc are stipulated on the screen.


A trained specialist, most often a STTR creates a verbatim i.e word for word account of what is being said using a special keyboard, known as a Palantype machine. Palantype (or Stenograph keyboard) is completely electronic and the keyboard is used in conjunction with a laptop, where software converts the phonetic keystrokes to English and also displays the text on screen. Every letter is not inputted, rather words, phrases etc are entered which the Palantype uses to create an accurate record of what has been said.

Note taking

Note taking involves recording information from a transient source such as lectures and meetings. Here a word for word for word account is not recorded rather the overall and main points are recorded.

Initially the format of note taking is informal with a common practice of adopting to write in shorthand to enable large amounts of information to be recorded.

Professional note takers assist individuals who are unable to make their own notes, such as deaf and hearing impaired people.

Note taking maybe manual or electronic and is increasingly becoming popular to be used in various settings and thus note takers are expected to have a professional qualification such as that offered by theCouncil for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People (CACDP).

Manual Notetaker

Manual note takers use the traditional method of pen and paper to produce a written summary of what was spoken. Key points will be noted and often shorthand is emphasised in manual note taking to ensure as much information is recorded as possible.

Electronic notetaker

Electronic note takers use a laptop or a computer (sometimes with the addition of specialist software) to produce a typed record of what was spoken in any given setting.

Typing is much faster than writing and thus electronic note keeping tends to allow more information to be recorded.

Electronic note takers are different to Speech to Text reporters who use a phonetic keyboard to produce a verbatim record whereas electronic note takers produce a précis record.