FAQ - Courses
FAQ - Interpreting and Translation Services
1. Can I pay in instalments?
Yes. Payment in monthly instalments via Direct Debit is standard for all of our courses. The standard payment plan for your course is detailed on the course page on the website. Please note that while we allow you to pay the course fee in instalments, by signing up to a course, you are committing to paying the entire course fee. This means if you decide to withdraw from the course after the 21 day cooling off period, you are liable to settle the outstanding balance.
2. When do the courses start and finish?
We run courses throughout the year and we advertise start and end dates for upcoming courses on the individual course pages of our website. If your selected course is full or not running, we will put you on a waiting list and contact you when the course is running.
3. Are there any exams?
All of our courses are accredited by Signature. You only need to do the exam if you want to receive the accredited qualification. There is no obligation to do the exam and we offer different package levels, so you can still learn without having to do the exam.

There are no written exams for the BSL courses. There is significant written coursework and exams for all professional interpreting, translation and communication support courses.
4. What qualification will I receive?
You will receive a qualification accredited by Signature, the leading awarding body for BSL, Deafblind and Communication Support qualifications in the UK. Signature qualifications are recognised by a wide range of employers and training providers.
5. Can I attend a different class each week?
No. You must attend the same class each week and you will not be able to attend a class on different days. For example, if you decide to attend a Tuesday class then you must attend that class every Tuesday.
6. Who are the teachers?
Our teachers have extensive experience in the interpreting, translation and BSL training fields and we are industry leaders. All of our BSL teachers are deaf, native BSL users, hold a recognised teaching qualification and have extensive experience in teaching BSL. You can find out more about our teachers on our website: www.bslfirst.com/about-us/our-team.
7. What will happen at the interview?
Level 3 courses and above require applicants to attend a short interview before being offered a place on the course. This is an opportunity to check that the course you have applied for is right for you. When you attend the interview, you will be given a series of short tasks to complete and you will have the opportunity to meet with the teacher and ask any specific questions you have about the course. We will normally tell you straight away after the interview whether or not you have been successful in obtaining a place on the course.
8. What is included in the course fee?
The course fee includes our costs to run the course, such as overheads, tuition fees, marking coursework and access to our online learning resources. The Signature exam fee is payable separately, as we collect this on behalf of the awarding body.
9. What if I have a pre-booked holiday during the course?
If you happen to have a holiday booked before you started the course, then you must inform your teacher when you will be off and how many sessions you expect to miss. If the holiday was pre-booked then this will not affect your attendance rate, as this will be marked as an authorised absence. However, if you book a holiday after you start the course then this will be marked as an unauthorised absence and will affect your attendance rate. Please be aware that you will not be entered for the exam if your attendance falls below 80%.
10. What if I have to miss a class?
If you are ill or you have other commitments and can’t attend class, please contact your teacher as soon as practicably possible. You will be given your teacher’s email address at the start of the course and you can find contact details for teachers in the Course Handbook and on the About Us page of the website. There is no need to contact the main office.
11. When will the exams take place?
All exams will take place during normal classroom hours so you must make yourself available for the exam. Provisional exam dates will be published on Moodle at the start of the course. Your teacher will confirm the exam date in consultation with the whole class. Once the exam has been booked, it cannot be changed under any circumstances.
12. What if I can’t make the exam date?
If you cannot make the agreed exam date, you must explain your reasons to your teacher. If you have extenuating circumstances for missing the exam, you should follow the procedure set out in our Extenuating Circumstances Policy. Holidays and work commitments are not considered acceptable extenuating circumstances and you may have to pay additional fees to sit the exam on an alternative day. Exam fees are non-refundable once the exam has been booked.
13. What if I miss my exam?
If you do not attend your exam on the exam day then you will need to arrange for a re-sit outside of normal classroom hours and additional fees will apply. If you have extenuating circumstances for your absence then you must inform the main office as soon as possible. Exam fees are non-refundable once the exam has been booked.
14. Who do I contact about payment queries?
For all queries relating to payments, including changing the date of your Direct Debit, please contact the finance department at [email protected].
15. How can I withdraw from my course?
If you are no longer able to continue with your course and have to withdraw, you must inform your teacher as soon as possible. Please note that, as per our refund policy and learning agreement, if you withdraw after the 21-day cooling off period, you are still liable for the outstanding course fee.

If you cancel your Direct Debit payments or refuse to pay the outstanding course fee after the 21-day period, we will attempt to recover these debts via Small Claims Court.

16. Who do I contact about applying for a TOTUM card?
Please contact the main office for TOTUM card enquiries.
17. How do I access the online resources on Moodle?
You will receive a welcome email when you sign up for the course, which will contain your login details for Moodle.
18. I want to progress on to the next level – how do I do this?
Your teacher will give you information about progression at the end of your course. You can also find full details of, and apply for, all our courses on our website: www.bslfirst.com. Alternatively, you can contact the main office if you have any enquiries about further courses.
19. How do I receive my certificate and results?
You will receive an email from the main office with your results. This is typically sent 6-8 weeks after the exam has taken place. When your certificate is ready, we will post your certificate to you via second class Royal Mail. There will be an additional charge if you want your certificate sent Signed For.

Please note, it is your responsibility to make sure the address we have on file for you is correct before we send the certificate.
20. What is the refund policy?
The deposit is always non-refundable. You are entitled to a full refund of the course fees (minus the deposit), or a waiver of outstanding course fees if paying by Direct Debit, if you withdraw within 21 days of starting the course. After 21 days, you will not be entitled to a refund or waiver of outstanding course fees unless you qualify for extenuating circumstances as set out in our Extenuating Circumstances Policy. You must agree to our Refund Policy when booking your place on the course.
1. How do I know what kind of service I need?
Most of the time, the deaf service user will contact you to request a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter for your event. This is the most common type of service re-quested. If another service is required, the service user will normally advise you.

When you contact us, we will ask you lots of details about the booking. This is in order for us to be able to advise you about which service is the most appropriate for your needs.

If you would like to have video, written or audio content translated into BSL then you should request a BSL translation service.

2. How do I book a BSL interpreter?
Please contact us at [email protected] or fill in our booking form online. Please give as much information about the event, including:

  •  Date and times
  •  Location (face-to-face or remote)
  •  Number of participants in total
  •  Number of users of the service requested (e.g. deaf BSL users)
  •  Details about the nature of the event (e.g. conference, meeting etc.)
  •  The topic/subject content of the event

3. What kind of information do I need to provide when I have booked an interpreter?
Any preparation materials in advance of the event are extremely helpful. Professional interpreters rely on this preparation material to make sure they can familiarise themselves with the subject content and to make sure that they can deliver the best possible service for you. Without any preparation, it makes the interpreter’s job much more difficult and will ultimately affect the quality of service you will receive.

Useful preparation materials include:

  •  Agenda or running order
  •  Scripts or notes of speeches
  •  Abstracts of presentations
  •  PowerPoint slides
  •  Videos/podcasts that will be presented
  •  Names of speakers and participants
  •  Notes or minutes from previous meetings
  •  Any particular dress code

If this is an Islamic booking, it is extremely important that you send us the scripts and presentation notes in advance so that we can prepare an appropriate translation of the Arabic into BSL.

4. How much do your services cost?
Our fees are in line with NUBSLI rates. Your quote will depend on the type of service you require and so each quote is bespoke according to the needs of the client. We will ask you lots of questions when you make an enquiry to produce an accurate quotation for the work.
5. My event will be filmed or live streamed - do I need to inform the interpreters?
Yes, please! Interpreters take great pride in their work and need to prepare if they are going to be filmed or live streamed. Some interpreters may refuse to take the booking if they will be recorded or live streamed. The fee may also change to reflect the additional pressure on the interpreter of being live streamed or recorded.
6. Can I record the interpretation?
We do not allow recordings of the interpreters or interpretations for any purpose. You must ask the permission of individual interpreters before recording their work.

If you would like to record the interpreter because you would like to have a BSL translation of your website or conference proceedings, then you should book a qualified BSL translator (RSLT). This will ensure a high quality translation.
7. I am not expecting any deaf people to attend but can I book an interpreter an-yway?
It is always good to have interpreters available so that your event is accessible to deaf BSL users. However, as interpreting requires talking to someone (i.e. a target audience), the interpreter(s) will not interpret the event if there is no target audience.

If there are no deaf BSL users requiring the interpreting service, the interpreters will wait on stand by in case someone arrives.
8. How many interpreters do I need?
Events over 1 hour in duration, conferences or technical meetings/training events will usually require 2 interpreters.

The interpreters will work together, supporting each other to ensure accuracy in the translation process. The interpreters will take 15 to 20 minutes shifts of active interpreting, while the other interpreter supports and monitors.

We will advise you how many interpreters you will need when you contact us with a booking request
9. Where will the interpreters be positioned during the event?
The interpreters will work flexibly to ensure that everyone’s needs are met. It is important that the interpreter is directly facing the deaf BSL service user. In a meeting, this may be the opposite side of the table. For a conference or training event, it may be next to the presenter/speaker/trainer.

It is important to meet with the interpreter before the event starts to discuss arrangements for best positioning.
10. Will the interpreters be intrusive or interrupt the speakers?
The interpreter will try to be as least intrusive as possible – it is important to discuss positioning arrangements with the interpreter before the event.

The translation process is very difficult and requires immense concentration. The interpreter may therefore stop the speaker to clarify points, or to ask for repetition if they cannot hear the words clearly.

If the interpreter is working on stage, the interpreter may need in-ear headsets or an additional speaker set up so that they can clearly hear the speaker.

11. How can I give feedback about the interpreters?
Feedback about the quality of the interpretation and the professionalism of the service provided is highly valued and sought after. If you would like to offer any feedback about the interpreters after the event, please drop us an email.

If you are unhappy with the service provided, please contact us in the first instance. All our interpreters are registered with the NRCPD, so if you would like to make a formal complaint about an interpreter’s conduct or quality of work, please contact the NRCPD: www.nrcpd.org.uk.

12. How can I arrange payment for interpreting services?
We will send you an invoice after the event with the agreed fee and payment details. Payment by bank transfer in GBP is preferred. We also have a Euro and US dollar account for international transactions.
13. What if I need to cancel?
Our cancellation terms are in line with NUBSLI recommendations:

0-7 days notice: 100% cancellation fee
8-14 days notice: 50% cancellation fee
15+ days notice: no fee

Please also refer to our terms and conditions for interpreting.
14. How do I book an interpreter remotely?
You can book a remote interpreter in the same was as booking a face-to-face interpreter, please email [email protected] or complete the online booking form, indicating that the booking is remote.

We can work with clients from across the UK remotely.
15. What is the best platform to use for remote interpreting services?
We recommend Zoom as the most accessible video conferencing platform. Zoom has features that allows the deaf BSL service users to multi-pin the interpreters and speakers, as well as the ability to ‘split screen’ when screen sharing.

We do not recommend MS Teams or Google Meet for accessibility.

Another option is to have two separate platforms open. For example, if your main meeting is through MS Teams, a separate Zoom platform can be open between the interpreter and the deaf BSL service user.
16. What information do I need to provide for BSL translation work?
BSL translation work is bespoke according to the needs of the projects of individual clients. When requesting a quote for BSL translation work, please provide the following information:

  •  Topic/subject content
  •  Type of media (e.g. print, website, video, audio)
  •  If video or audio, are subtitles or a transcript available?
  •  Length of text (number of words or minutes)
  •  Expected completion date
  •  Editing requirements (e.g. in-vision, subtitling or none)
  •  Preference of presenter (e.g. male, female, ethnicity)

17. What materials do I need to provide for BSL translation work?
In order to go ahead with translation work, we will require the following materials from you:

  •  Media file (document, website, video, audio)
  •  Subtitle or transcript file (if applicable)
  •  Additional documentation for preparation or background information

We will send you a link to upload your files to our secure Cloud server. We normally film in HD and return video files in .mp4 or .mov format.
18. How long is your turn around period for BSL translation work?
Our BSL translators are busy people! We can usually turn around small projects within two weeks. Larger projects will take more time.
19. Can you do subtitles and video editing?
Absolutely! We work with a video editor to produce professional grade video products, including creating in-vision videos and subtitles. We can produce closed captions and send you the .srt file, or we can burn open captions on to your video.

We film in HD as standard and work with the most common video formats, including MP4, MOV, WMV, MPEG-4, WEBM and HTML5.
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