RNID: Shortage of interpreters blights sign language users

The government must fund training for sign language interpreters to address a huge shortage that is denying deaf people access to basic services, RNID warned today.

The charity cited figures showing there were just 361 qualified interpreters in the UK and 164 trainees, compared to 50,000 users of British Sign Language. This meant services such as hospitals had to book interpreters months in advance and deaf people often had to make do with communication support workers with the equivalent of a GCSE-level qualification.

RNID called for the government to fund advanced level training courses for sign language interpreters as a matter of urgency.

Director of communications Katherine Phipps said: “Imagine being admitted to hospital in France and having someone with GCSE French translate for you – it would be distressing and confusing.”

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