Interpreters and CSWs

A sign language interpreter (or BSL interpreter) is someone who has trained to translate between English and BSL.  Interpreters are either trainees or qualified.  They interpret simultaneously what is being said or spoken into BSL for a deaf person and what is being signed in BSL, into spoken English for a hearing person.  An interpreter does not translate word for word or sign for sign, but uses their knowledge and skills in both language to translate the content of the signer and speaker into each respective language.

Communication Support Workers (CSW) are different from interpreters in that they are not professionally trained to interpret between English and BSL.  Their role is to enable access to communication between deaf and hearing people by using a variety of support strategies and communication modes to match the individuals’ needs and/or preferences.  CSWs are most often used in schools, colleges and universities to help deaf students communicate with their peers and staff.  CSWs provide communication support through sign language, note-taking or lip-reading/lip-speaking.