Deaf people let down by lack of standards

Thamsanqa Jantjie’s ‘apparent’ interpretations of speeches given during the Nelson Mandela memorial have caused uproar within the international deaf community.

While we support the statements of those in the wider deaf sector, Signature and NRCPD believe the most saddening element is the fact that millions of deaf people worldwide have been so badly let down.

We saw many failings from the organisation responsible for the provision of Sign Language Interpreters for this historic event. This, through the provision of one under qualified and underprepared interpreter, left deaf viewers to endure an embarrassing display of deaf interpretation.

High profile incidents such as this are quite rare. However, it is still the case across the UK that many unqualified or unsuitable individuals are often used in place of properly trained and regulated interpreters – this is something Signature and NRCPD are striving to change.

We believe UK government should make regulated interpreters a legal obligation, arguing that a failure to finance, or make sufficient attempts to obtain a qualified interpreter is unacceptable and potentially critical for deaf people. A standard we would want to see reflected further afield.

NRCPD regulates sign language interpreters and other communication professionals who work with deaf and deafblind people in the UK. Our job is to safeguard the wellbeing and interests of people who rely on those professionals. We do that by ensuring that every communication professional on our registers are properly trained to do their job safely and consistently.

We campaign to eliminate the risk and safeguard people who rely on interpreters by using those who are ‘Sign Safe’, registered with the National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind people (NRCPD).

For more information, please contact Emma Mortimer at Signature – 0191 383 7293 or

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