Interpreter Development Programme for Heritage Signers

Interpreter Development Programme for Heritage Signers

Upcoming courses:
One weekend a month, 25 September 2021 - 22 June 2024
One weekend a month, 9 September 2023 - 28 June 2026
Last Updated: 12-03-21

At a glance:

Level 6 (RQF)
Open to hearing people from deaf families
3 years - 1 weekend per month
Leads to RSLI with NRCPD and NIC with RID
Includes BSL and ASL training
London venue
£3,000 per year (inc. VAT and exam fees)

Downloads

Guide to BSL Courses
How to become a Sign Language Interpreter

Course content

The Interpreter Development Programme for Heritage Signers (IDP-HS) course is open to hearing native, near-native and heritage signers who would like to pursue a career as a qualified sign language interpreter. You will achieve the Signature Level 6 Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting and Translation and the Signature Level 6 Certificate in British Sign Language qualifications. This course leads to Registered Sign Language Interpreter (RSLI) status with the NRCPD. This is currently the only course of its kind in the UK.

We have developed the IDP-HS course based on our extensive experience in the interpreting, translation and training fields. The course is made up of 360 hours of guided learning and 360 hours of independent learning spread over 3 years. This is an intensive programme and requires your full commitment.

This course will take you from little or no knowledge of sign language interpreting to Registered Sign Language Interpreter (RSLI) status. You do not need any qualifications in BSL to join this course, but you must be able to demonstrate competency in BSL at minimum Level 2.

You will be able to register as a Trainee Sign Language Interpreter (TSLI) in the second year of this course (subject to you also meeting all other requirements set out by the NRCPD).

In the second year, you will have the option to study American Sign Language (ASL) alongside your BSL and interpreting training. Students who complete the ASL training will be eligible to sit the RID National Interpreter Certification (NIC) exam to register as an English/ASL interpreter in the USA, as well as with the NRCPD as a RSLI with BSL/English/ASL as core languages.
Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
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 10x 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
Intermediate British Sign LanguageYou will develop your skills in British Sign Language from level 2 (A2) (or equivalent) towards intermediate level (B1). You will develop your productive and receptive skills, vocabulary and grammar. You will also study the history of BSL and deaf culture, including the role and identity of hearing heritage signers and child language brokers. This module is benchmarked to the Level 3/4 qualifications in BSL. Topics include: home life, social and recreational activities, education, employment and jobs, science and technology, medicine and law and politics.
Theoretical principles in interpreting and translationThis module will introduce students to some of the key theoretical frameworks in interpreting and translation studies, including functionalist theories, ethical models and the role of the interpreter and translator. It will introduce students to some of the current principles and issues in the public service interpreting profession, with a focus on signed language interpreting. It will also look at some of the unique issues that arise for heritage signers and the relationship between heritage signers and the interpreting profession.
Introduction to interpretingYou will be introduced to the main interpreting theories in spoken and signed language interpreting. You will also study the history of the sign language interpreting profession, including the role of hearing heritage signers and child language brokers. You will be introduced to consecutive interpreting, note-taking skills, simultaneous interpreting, text translation and audiovisual translation. You will practice both one-way and two-way interpreting. This module will also introduce you to some of the main domains that interpreters work in, including health, employment, education and community.
The second 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 10x 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 second year, you will develop your knowledge, understanding and skills in the following areas:
ModuleTopics covered
Beginners American Sign Language (optional)

You will start learning American Sign Language alongside your training as a BSL interpreter, working towards pre-intermediate level (A2). Topics include:

  • ASL manual alphabet
  • Meeting people, numbers, time
  • Weather, transport, directions
  • Healthy living
  • Family, clothes
  • Countries
  • Colours
  • Feelings and behaviours
  • School, work and jobs
  • Home life
  • Social and recreational activities
  • Education
  • Employment
Advanced British Sign LanguageYou will develop your skills in British Sign Language from level 3 (B1) towards advanced level (C2). You will develop your productive and receptive skills, vocabulary and grammar. You will also study the history of BSL and deaf culture, including the role and identity of hearing heritage signers and child language brokers within the deaf world. The assessment for this module takes the form of 3x live observed BSL discussions, 1 externally marked presentation, 1 externally marked discussion and 1 receptive exam. You will achieve the Level 6 Certificate in BSL qualification upon completion of this module. Topics include: medicine, politics and the law, employment and finance, education, science and technology and media and society.
Professional interpretingYou will continue to develop your interpreting skills in one-way and two-way interpreting. You will study some of the key theories in interpreting and translation studies and learn how to apply them to your practice. This module will give you the skills to analyse your interpreting performance by understanding the cognitive processes and stages of the interpreting process. You will continue to practise your skills in consecutive interpreting in addition to developing skills in simultaneous interpreting. You will also be introduced to interpreting in a wider range of domains, including health, education, employment and performance. At the beginning of the second year, you will be assessed against the National Occupational Standards for Trainee Interpreters, which will enable you to register with the NRCPD as a Trainee Sign Language Interpreter (TSLI) and start working as a professional sign language interpreter.
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 development You 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).
Remote interpretingYou will learn about the emerging field of Video Relay Interpreting (VRI) and engage critically with current debates about VRI in the sign language interpreting field. You will learn how to prepare and perform VRI assignments, including how to set up, check and monitor equipment effectively and how to manage the specific demands relating to this mode of delivery. You will also be introduced to subtitling and audiovisual translation.
The third 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 (including assessment time) are divided into 10x 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 third year, you will develop your knowledge, understanding and skills in the following areas:
ModuleTopics covered
Intermediate American Sign Language (optional)

You will continue to develop your ASL skills towards intermediate level (B2). Topics include:

  • Consumer issues and daily living
  • Deaf history and culture
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Society and politics
  • Science and technology
  • Media and culture
  • Employment and business
  • Education
Advanced professional interpretingThis module will bring together your skills in interpreting in order to refine your skills in interpreting between English and BSL at native level. You will master a range of interpreting techniques, particularly in simultaneous interpreting. You will also be introduced to interpreting in specialist domains, including conferences, mental health and court. You will be assessed in both two-way and one-way interpreting and in both simultaneous and consecutive modes. Assessment takes the form of 5x evidence or observations of one-way and two-way interpreting performance.
Work as part of a team of professional interpretersThis module will give you the knowledge and skills to work effectively as part of a team of interpreters. 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 (i.e. relay interpreters and English>BSL translators). 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 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 interpreterYou 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.

Assessments

There are total of 17 assessments for this qualification over the total 3-year duration. There is 1 written assessment in Year 1. There are 5 assessments in year 2, and 12 assessments in year 3. All assessments in year 1 involve written coursework. In year 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
Year 3 Assessments
No.AssessmentMethod
13,000 word essay Exam essay - externally assessed
No.AssessmentMethod
1Informal one-to-one discussion in BSL Filmed clip - internally assessed
2Informal group debate in BSLFilmed clip - internally assessed
3Formal group meeting in BSLFilmed clip - internally assessed
4Formal presentation in BSLFilmed clip - externally assessed
5Formal group meeting in BSLFilmed clip - externally assessed
6BSL receptive skills examFilmed clip - externally assessed
No.AssessmentMethod
1
  1. One-way consecutive BSL>English and critical analysis
  2. One-way consecutive ASL>English and critical analysis (optional)
Live observation or filmed clip - internally assessed
2
  1. One-way consecutive English>BSL and critical analysis
  2. One-way consecutive English>ASL and critical analysis (optional)
Live observation or filmed clip - internally assessed
3
  1. One-way simultaneous interpreting BSL>English and critical analysis
  2. One-way simultaneous interpreting ASL>English and critical analysis (optional)
Live observation or filmed clip - internally assessed
4
  1. One-way simultaneous interpreting English>BSL and critical analysis
  2. One-way simultaneous interpreting English>ASL and critical analysis (optional)
Live observation or filmed clip - internally assessed
5
  1. Two-way face-to-face interpreting BSL/English and critical analysis
  2. Two-way face-to-face interpreting ASL/English and critical analysis (optional)
Live observation or filmed clip - internally assessed
6
  1. Two-way remote interpreting BSL/English and critical analysis
  2. Two-way remote interpreting ASL/English and critical analysis (optional)
Live observation or filmed clip - internally assessed
7
  1. One-way simultaneous interpreting BSL>English
  2. One-way simultaneous interpreting ASL>English (optional)
Filmed clip - externally assessed
8
  1. One-way simultaneous interpreting English>BSL
  2. One-way simultaneous interpreting English>ASL (optional)
Filmed clip - externally assessed
9
  1. Two-way face-to-face interpreting English/BSL
  2. Two-way face-to-face interpreting English/ASL (optional)
Filmed clip - externally assessed
10
  1. Two-way remote interpreting English/BSL
  2. Two-way remote interpreting English/ASL (optional)
Filmed clip - externally assessed
11
  1. Sight translation English>BSL
  2. Sight translation English>ASL (optional)
Filmed clip - externally assessed
12
  1. Immediate translation BSL>English
  2. Immediate translation ASL>English (optional)
Written product - exter-nally assessed

Entry Requirements

1. Hearing native, near-native or heritage signer
2. BSL skills at Level 2 (or equivalent)
3. Pass the interview and aptitude test
4. Good level of English (e.g. GCSE grade C, CEFR B2)

You must have a good level of literacy to be able to read and understand the course materials.

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

Progression

The IDP-HS is a unique course that gives you the skills to interpret between English and BSL at native level (AA language combination), as well as the option to qualify as an ASL/English interpreter.

You will achieve the Signature Level 6 Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting and Translation and Signature Level 6 Certificate in British Sign Language qualifications, which allow you to apply for Registered Sign Language Interpreter (RSLI) with the NRCPD and start working as a qualified sign language interpreter. You will also be eligible for the RID National Interpreter Certification for ASL/English interpreting. Holding qualified interpreter status in both ASL and BSL will open up several opportunities around the world.

You will be eligible for full membership of the Association of Sign Language Interpreters (MASLI) and Visual Language Professionals (MVLP).

When you have 3 years of interpreting experience, you will be eligible for full membership of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (MITI) and the Chartered Institute of Linguists (MCIoL).

You will also be eligible to join the International Association of Conference Interpreters, as well as the European Union Institutions and the United Nations, as a conference interpreter with AA English/BSL language combination.

This course will give you the skills and confidence to work in all domains, to aspire towards positions of leadership within the sign language interpreting profession and to seek interpreting opportunities around the world.

Careers

Many qualified BSL/English interpreters 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, 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 interpreter:

National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI)

Association of Sign Language Interpreters (ASLI)

Visual Language Professionals (VLP)

Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI)

Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIoL)

International Association of Conference Interpreters

European Commission

United Nations

Dates and times

25 September 2021 - 22 June 2024 (IDPHS-2122)
Year 1 Dates
Saturday 12:00-18:00 and Sunday 09:00-15:00 once a month
25-26 September 2021
30-31 October 2021
27-28 November 2021
29-30 January 2022
26-27 February 2022
26-27 March 2022
30 April-1 May 2022
28-29 May 2022
25-26 June 2022
30-31 July 2022
Year 2 Dates
Friday 13:00-20:00, Saturday 10:00-17:00 and Sunday 09:00-16:00 once a month
16-18 September 2022
14-16 October 2022
11-13 November 2022
27-29 January 2023
24-26 February 2023
24-26 March 2023
28-30 April 2023
26-28 May 2023
23-25 June 2023
21-23 July 2023
Year 3 Dates
Friday 13:00-20:00, Saturday 10:00-17:00 and Sunday 09:00-16:00 once a month
15-17 September 2023
20-22 October 2023
17-19 November 2023
15-17 December 2023
19-21 January 2024
16-18 February 2024
15-17 March 2024
19-21 April 2024
17-19 May 2024
21-22 June 2024
15 September 2023 - 20 June 2026 (IDPHS-2324)
Year 1 Dates
Saturday 12:00-18:00 and Sunday 09:00-15:00 once a month
15-17 September 2023
20-22 October 2023
17-19 November 2023
15-17 December 2023
19-21 January 2024
16-18 February 2024
15-17 March 2024
19-21 April 2024
17-19 May 2024
21-22 June 2024
Year 2 Dates
Friday 13:00-20:00, Saturday 10:00-17:00 and Sunday 09:00-16:00 once a month
20-22 September 2024
18-20 October 2024
15-17 November 2024
13-15 December 2024
17-19 January 2025
14-16 February 2025
14-16 March 2025
18-20 April 2025
16-18 May 2025
13-15 June 2025
Year 3 Dates
Friday 13:00-20:00, Saturday 10:00-17:00 and Sunday 09:00-16:00 once a month
19-21 September 2025
17-19 October 2025
14-16 November 2025
19-21 December 2025
16-18 January 2026
13-15 February 2026
13-15 March 2026
17-19 April 2026
15-17 May 2026
19-21 June 2026

Fees

£3,000 per year

Monthly: £300 per month x 10 months

£300 deposit required to reserve your place (this will be subtracted from the total cost)

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!
BSL First LTD | Company number: 12860304 | VAT number: 379905441
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