BSL Translators work between written English and British Sign Language (BSL) (in contrast, BSL/English Interpreters work between spoken English and BSL). BSL translation is a highly technical skill that involves translating complex written documents from English into BSL. This may involve broadcast translations, e.g. to be broadcast on TV screens in public service buildings; in-vision translations of TV programmes to be broadcast on national TV; or translations of technical texts, e.g. legal contracts.
BSL Translators are required to undertake extensive training at Level 6 of the National Occupational Standards (equivalent to undergraduate level) and are certified and regulated by the National Register of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD), which is the national regulatory body for BSL/English Translators (and other communication professionals).
What is British Sign Language (BSL)?
BSL is the indigenous signed language of the British Isles (used in England, Wales, Scotland and certain parts of Northern Ireland). In 2003, the UK government recognised BSL as a language in its own right, following decades of research into the linguistic structure of BSL. BSL has its own vocabulary and grammar distinct to those of English. In this respect, BSL is just like any spoken language and is not a 'signed' form of English.
The British Deaf Association (2018) estimates that there are 150,000 native users of BSL in the UK and who rely on BSL/English Interpreters to access public services, such as healthcare, education and community services. This figure does not include non-native users of BSL (people who use BSL as a second language).
There is a huge diversity of signed languages across the world with different countries having their own native signed languages. Many deaf people have moved to the UK from Europe. They do not know BSL but they are fluent in their own native signed languages, e.g. Polish Sign Language. In these cases, international sign interpreting services should be sought.
National Register of Communication Professionals Working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD)
BSL/English Interpreters should be registered with the NRCPD, which means National Register of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People.
NRCPD is the professional regulatory body for sign language interpreters and sign language translators in the UK. NRCPD registration means that deaf people who use BSL/English interpreters and translators can make a complaint about the interpreter or translator if they are not happy with the service received.
There are two categories of NRCPD registration for sign language translators:
Registered Sign Language Translator (RSLT)
Registered Sign Language Translators (RSLT) are native BSL signers, hold a level 6 qualification in BSL and a level 6 qualification in sign language translation.
The fact that qualified BSL translators must have native competency in BSL is in line with industry standards where best practice is to translate "only into one's native language, as this ensures that the target language is as natural and coherent as possible for end user" (ITI 2018).
Trainee Sign Language Translator (TSLT)
Trainee Sign Language Translators (TSLT) have skills in English and in translation at Level 4 of the National Occupational Standards (B2). Due to this lower skill level, TSLTs may not be used for complex translation projects where there is a significant risk to the parties involved, e.g. the translation of legal contracts.
BSL Translation Services
We offer a professional BSL translation service and only used qualified BSL translators registered with the NRCPD. We have expertise in translation, filming and editing to ensure that you receive a high quality final product. We film in HD as standard.
Written content on websites
Audio content on websites (with or without transcript)
Subtitling of audio or BSL videos
Books (fiction, non-fiction, children's etc.)
Leaflets and brochures
Fact sheets and information packs
Leaflets and brochures
In-vision Translation (from subtitles, transcript or audio)