Communication Support

Communication Support

What is a Communication Support Worker?

Communication Support Workers (CSWs) are hearing people (non-deaf people) who have at least Level 3 BSL skills (B1 or A Level standard). They may or may not also hold the Signature Level 3 Certificate in Communication Support for Deaf Learners. CSWs are not trained interpreters and have not received the extensive and specialist training required to become a Registered Sign Language Interpreter (RSLI). CSWs may have a high level of BSL proficiency, but due to lack of formal training and certification in interpreting and translation they must never be used as a replacement for professional BSL/English interpreting services.

CSWs work mostly in educational settings and may also work in employment settings to provide informal office support for deaf members of staff. CSWs facilitate and broker communication between an English speaker and a BSL user on an informal basis or as in-class support.

> Educational CSWs

Educational CSWs form the majority of CSWs and work mostly in schools, colleges and universities. They provide BSL and other learning support to deaf learners. Usually the deaf learner will have additional aids to help them to access the lecture or class, e.g. hearing aids or cochlear implant. The role of the CSW is to provide additional support using BSL, Signed Supported English (SSE) or other communication methods.

> Office Support

Sometimes CSWs may be required to provide informal BSL support for deaf members of staff, e.g. to communicate with colleagues who don't know BSL on an informal basis in the office, or to keep the deaf member of staff informed of any updates/announcements. However, certified BSL/English interpreters may be required for more complex situations, e.g. staff meetings or training sessions.

Communication Support Worker Service

We are a DSA accredited Non-Medical Help Provider and a member of the Association of Non-Medical Help Providers.

We provide CSWs according to the needs of the client and service user. All of our CSWs hold at least the Level 3 Certificate in British Sign Language qualification (usually a higher level qualification) and they may also hold the Level 3 Certificate in Communication Support for Deaf Learners qualification if working in educational settings.

What is a Specialist Language Support Tutor?

Specialist Language Support Tutors are a Specialist Support Professional (SSP), as defined under the Non-Medical Helper (NMH) section of the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). Specialist Language Support Tutors support deaf and hard of hearing students with English language and academic study skills. This may include:
Research skills - reading techniques and reading for inference
Critical thinking
Academic writing skills
Language modification - plain English
Maintaining a glossary of English terms
Support with using English grammar
Language Support Tutors are highly skilled Specialist Support Professionals, holding both Registered Sign Language Interpreter (RSLI) status and a teaching qualification (e.g. PGCE, QTS or QTLS).

Specialist Language Support Service

We are a DSA accredited Non-Medical Help Provider and a member of the Association of Non-Medical Help Providers. We provide suitably qualified Specialist Language Support Tutors, recognised by the DSA, to support you throughout your university career.

What is Language Modification?

Language modification of written English content may be required to improve the accessibility of written material for deaf users of that material. Language modification involves reformulating written English texts to produce a 'plain English' version, taking into account the language needs of deaf readers.

English is a second language for many deaf people, especially congenitally deaf people. In order to learn spoken language, one must be able to hear and reproduce the sounds needed for speech production. Deafness, therefore, is a barrier to spoken language acquisition, which means many deaf people find it challenging to learn English to native level. As written English requires knowledge of spoken English, even written English can be challenging.

Language modification involves using a range of techniques to modify the written language in order to make it more accessible for deaf readers (it may also help non-English speakers too). These techniques may include:
Changing passive voice to active voice
Splitting complex sentences into simple sentences
Replacing low frequency words with high frequency words
Adding explanations around technical terms/jargon
Employing visual aids where possible to explain concepts

Language Modification Service

We offer a language modification service for all kinds of written content. We work with a graphic designer to reproduce written content in a visual and accessible format, ready for publication.

Some examples of texts that may need to be modified for deaf readers include:
Teaching resources and classroom materials (handouts, worksheets, PowerPoints)
Fact sheets and information leaflets (healthcare information, brochures, leaflets)
Letters (referral letters, appointment letters, business correspondence)
Contracts and terms and conditions
BSL First LTD | Company number: 12860304 | VAT number: 379905441
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