First Deaf People Achieve Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting

Five students have recently become the first Deaf people to achieve the Signature Level 6 NVQ Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting. Working with [sonus], a Southampton-based Signature approved training centre, the students were the first to complete the Diploma as interpreters from one sign language to another sign language.

Liz Jones, Chief Executive at [sonus], said “It is fantastic that Deaf people have at long last been afforded the opportunity to become qualified interpreters on a par with their hearing counterparts. Thanks must be given to Actual Signs for being brave enough to run the programme initially. Thanks to Signature for reworking the standards to enable access to BSL users and for their support in helping us to develop the programme and overcoming the issues that it raised. Finally, to [sonus] for being generous with my time as the programme assessor and for the financial contribution the Board of Trustees of [sonus] have made to cover the additional costs of the programme.”

Interpreting between two signed languages requires skills that can differ from those required by other interpreters. Several of those have never before been encountered in the assessment process for interpreting. Some of the candidates were surprised to learn how intricate and complex the role of the interpreter can be.

This is a huge achievement for the successful candidates, one of whom, Joel Kellhofer, said “I am both proud and delighted to have received this qualification and now have the confidence to use my skills in a professional area.”

The qualification is available to Deaf sign language users as the result of an extensive programme of work that started at the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters Conference in 2007. The work addressed the lack of qualification routes and regulation for Deaf people working in the interpreting field and made available a qualification in translation as well as this Diploma in interpreting from one sign language to another sign language.

Signature Director of Communications, Paul Parsons, said “This is a proud moment for Signature, [sonus] and so many other partners who have worked hard over the last five years to make professional level interpreting and translation qualifications available to Deaf people.

I would like to thank everyone who has been involved and offer my sincere congratulations to the students who are the first to achieve this Diploma.”

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