Diploma in Sign Language Translation (2 Years)

Diploma in Sign Language Translation (2 Years)

Upcoming courses:
Saturday 12pm-6pm & Sunday 9am-3pm once a month - starting 14 September 2024 

At a glance:

Level 6 (RQF)
2 years from Level 6
2 days/month (face-to-face)
Leads to RSLT
London venue
£3,600 per year (inc. VAT and exam fees)

Course content

This course is open to native and near-native BSL signers (both deaf and hearing) who would like to pursue a career as a qualified sign language translator. You will achieve the Signature Level 6 Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting and Translation qualification, specialising in translation (Stream 4). This course leads to Registered Sign Language Translator (RSLT) status with the NRCPD.

This course recognises the value and expertise that deaf native signers bring to the sign language interpreting and translation profession, and aims to encourage more deaf people to consider a career as a sign language interpreter or translator.

We have developed this course based on our extensive experience in the interpreting, translation and training fields. The course is made up of 120 hours of guided learning and 120 hours of independent learning spread over 2 years. This is an intensive programme and requires your full commitment.

This course will take you from little or no knowledge of sign language translation to Registered Sign Language Translator (RSLT) status. You must already hold a Level 6 BSL qualification.

You will be able to register as a Trainee Sign Language Translator (TSLT) in the first year of this course (subject to you also meeting all other requirements set out by the NRCPD).
Year 1
Year 2
The first year is made up of 120 hours of guided learning hours and 120 hours of structured independent study (total 240 hours). The guided learning sessions are divided into 10 x 12-hour sessions over a weekend once a month over 10 months. This is followed by an additional 12 hours of structured independent study per month, which is completed through our e-learning platform.

In the first year, you will develop your knowledge, understanding and skills in the following areas:
ModuleTopics covered
English skillsYou will develop your reading and writing skills in English, focusing specifically on academic English. You will study the grammar of the English language, practise reading and writing skills, learn academic research skills, academic referencing and essay writing. This module will give you a good foundation in academic and research skills to be able to deal with the level of academic study required for this qualification.
Theories and principles in interpreting and translation studiesYou will be introduced to a wide variety of key theoretical frameworks in interpreting and translation studies, such as functionalist theories, ethical models and the role of the interpreter and translator. It will introduce you to some of the current principles and issues in the public service interpreting and translation professions, with a focus on signed language interpreting and translation, and will encourage you to think critically about your own practice by applying a range of theoretical frameworks. You will also discuss ethical dilemmas that may arise during interpreting assignments.
Maintain skills and systems for interpreting tasksYou will understand the importance of maintaining interpreting and language skills as a professional interpreter and you will critically evaluate a range of systems to help you maintain your professional skills. As most sign language interpreters and translators are self-employed/freelance, you will learn about the requirements and demands of working as a freelance interpreter/translator, including practical business administration skills, the importance of maintaining good relationships with clients and how to find and charge appropriately for interpreting work.
Prepare for interpreting assignmentsYou will learn about the importance of preparing for interpreting assignments, applying key theories in interpreting and translation studies to plan and prepare appropriately for assignments. You will be able to assess your own ability to undertake, and accept, interpreting assignments, as well as plan and prepare for assignments as part of a team of interpreters. You will learn about the importance of maintaining a glossary for domains you regularly work in. You will critically evaluate and apply a range of preparation strategies and you will produce evidence of preparing for 4 assignments.
Plan and implement continuous professional developmentYou will work with your professional supervisor to plan your development points over the course of your studies. You will create, maintain and update a Professional Development Plan throughout your studies. Your plan will be informed by trends, developments and good practice in the sign language interpreting/translation profession as well as your own evaluation of your gaps in knowledge, skills and competence. You will have regular meetings with your supervisor to review your PDP (required to maintain your TSLI registration).
Introduction to translationThis is a practical module where you will practise translating between English and BSL. You will be encouraged to critically analyse your own translating by applying relevant theories in interpreting and translation studies. You will be introduced to text translation, sight and immediate translation, in-vision translation and subtitling.
ModuleTopics covered
Professional translationYou will carry out translations of written English texts to a professional standard, such as text translation, in-vision translation, sight translation and subtitling. You will be able to apply a wide range of interpreting and translation theories and principles to justify your translation approach and ethical decisions.
Work as part of a team of professional translatorsThis module will give you the knowledge and skills to work effectively as part of a team of translators. It will equip you with a range of co-working techniques, such as feeding, checking and monitoring skills, as well as strategies to work with other professionals. You will consider a wide range of co-working techniques in various situations and domains, using key principles and ethical models to justify your decisions.
Sight and immediate translationYou will learn about the situations when you might be required to produce sight translations of written and signed texts. You will consider the appropriateness and feasibility of the sight translation task. You will be able to apply a wide range of interpreting and translation theories and principles to justify your translation approach and ethical decisions.
Evaluate performance as a professional translatorYou will use a wide range of theoretical frameworks, ethical frameworks and key principles in interpreting and translation studies to critically evaluate your own interpreting performance. You will be able to justify and analyse the interpreting approach, as well as evaluate the consequences of ethical decisions made. You will also have the opportunity to engage in group reflective practice sessions. You are required to produce a critical analysis of your interpreting performance for all of the 6x internal assessments.


There are a total of 17 assessments spread across 12 months. There are 5 assessments in Part 1 and 12 assessments in Part 2. All assessments in Part 1 involve written coursework. In Part 2, there are a total of 6x internal assessments of one-way and two-way interpreting, 4x external assessments of one-way and two-way interpreting and 2x sight translations (externally assessed). This means students are required to produce 6x evidence of real interpreting assignments in the community (some of these assessments will be conducted in the classroom).
Year 1 Assessments
Year 2 Assessments
13,000 word essayWritten essay – externally assessed
2Business plan (detailing systems and processes in place to do business)Coursework – internally assessed
3GlossaryCoursework – internally assessed
44x evidence of preparing for translation assignments, including evidence of preparing for co-working assignmentsCoursework – internally assessed
5Professional Development Plan and reflective journalsCoursework – internally assessed
1Text translation (1,500 words)Filmed clip - internally assessed
2Live translation (pre-recorded in-vision)Live observation or filmed clip - internally assessed
3Extended text translation (7,000 words) and critical analysisFilmed clip - internally assessed
4Subtitling (BSL>English) and critical analysisFilmed clip - internally assessed
5Live translation (consecutive)Live observation or filmed clip - internally assessed
6Live translation (live broadcast)Live observation or filmed clip - internally assessed
7Live translation (pre-recorded in-vision)Filmed clip - externally assessed
8Live translation (live broadcast)Filmed clip - externally assessed
9Text translation (1,500 words)Filmed clip - externally assessed
10Text translation (1,500 words)Filmed clip - externally assessed
11Sight translation English>BSLFilmed clip - externally assessed
12Immediate translation BSL>EnglishFilmed clip - externally assessed

Entry Requirements

Native or near-native BSL signer
Level 6 qualification in BSL (or equivalent)
A university degree (in any subject) is desirable
Pass the interview and aptitude test
Level 6 English skills (this will be tested at the interview)
You must have a good level of literacy to be able to read and understand the course materials. Your English skills will be tested at the interview.

Ideally, you will have a network of contacts to help you to collect evidence of your translation work for your portfolio.


Sign language translators often find work in the TV and media industry, e.g. in-vision translator of TV programmes. Many sign language translators are approached by deaf and hearing organisations and public bodies (e.g. NHS) to translate written English communication materials into BSL, e.g. for social media and websites. There is a growing demand for BSL translators as organisations seek to make their content and communications accessible to the BSL community.

We have strong links with media companies and translation agencies in the UK and can offer real work experience opportunities for trainee translators.

You will achieve the Signature Level 6 Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting and Translation qualification, which will allow you to apply for Registered Sign Language Translator (RSLT) with the NRCPD and start working as a qualified sign language translator.


Many qualified BSL/English interpreters and translators are freelance sole-traders. There are several interpreting agencies that offer work to qualified BSL/English interpreters. These include some big multinational agencies that offer interpreting services in several languages and some smaller specialist agencies that deal mainly with BSL/English interpreting services.

NUBSLI publish guidance on rates for freelance interpreters and translators, which vary depending on the region of the country. On average, a newly qualified interpreter can expect a starting salary of £30,000 per annum. This can go up to as much as £50,000 per annum for experienced freelance interpreters.

For more information about starting out as a professional BSL/English interpreter:

National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI)

Association of Sign Language Interpreters (ASLI)

Visual Language Professionals (VLP)

Dates and times

Saturday 12pm-6pm & Sunday 9am-3pm

Year 1

  • 14-15 September 2024
  • 26-27 October 2024
  • 23-24 November 2024
  • 25 & 26 January 2025
  • 22 & 23 February 2025
  • 22 & 23 March 2025
  • 12 & 13 April 2025
  • 24 & 25 May 2025
  • 21 & 22 June 2025
  • 19 & 20 July 2025

Year 2

  • 27 & 28 September 2025
  • 25 & 26 October 2025
  • 22 & 23 November 2025
  • 20 & 21 December 2025
  • 24 & 25 January 2026
  • 21 & 22 February 2026
  • 21 & 22 March 2026
  • 25 & 26 April 2026
  • 23 & 24 May 2026
  • 27 & 28 June 2026


£3,600 per year (inc. VAT and exam fees)

Monthly: £360 per month x 10 months

£360 deposit required to reserve your place (this will be subtracted from the total cost).

£75 non-refundable interview fee is also payable. This is not returned in the event you are not offered a place on the course.

Fees include awarding body assessment fees and access to Moodle. Monthly Direct Debit payment plan comes as standard. Our fees are always all-inclusive so there are never any unexpected costs!
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BSL First LTD | Company number: 12860304 | VAT number: 379905441

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