Jim Edwards, chief executive of Signature, yesterday reiterated the importance of statutory regulation in driving up standards of British Sign Language (BSL)/English interpreting.
Speaking in a panel debate at the British Deaf Association’s (BDA) BSL Symposium 2, ‘Strengthening Our Rights’, Jim reminded delegates that currently anyone can call themselves an interpreter.
“Until we achieve statutory regulation of sign language interpreters, we will have problems,” warned Jim. “How we do that is still up for debate, but the reasons are clear: to improve standards, increase consumer confidence and protect the professionals.”
The panel also included the chief executive of the BDA, David Buxton, who had earlier urged delegates to work together to win more support for BSL. David said joint campaigns on issues such as Access to Work should be developed, emphasising the importance of using evidence when talking to legislators and policy makers.
“As David said, campaigns are built on strong evidence,” said Jim. “And it is the campaigns that have raised the status and profile of BSL in recent years.”
Signature already works with the BDA and other organisations in the field of deafness and supports the call for organisations and individuals to work together to common aims.
“There are many things we can and should do together,” said Signature’s recently appointed Senior Policy Adviser, Dan Sumners. “When charities share expertise our resources go much further, meaning we can achieve more for our beneficiaries.”
The symposium, which took place on the 11th anniversary of the official recognition of BSL and 10th anniversary of official recognition of Irish Sign Language (ISL) in Northern Ireland, saw the launch of the BDA discussion paper, ‘Legal status for BSL and ISL’. Amongst its recommendations was a call for the government to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities across the whole of the UK by granting legal status to BSL and ISL.