Guide to our BSL interpreting service

Guide to our BSL interpreting service


Under the Equality Act 2010, deaf people have a right to reasonable adjustments to help them communicate, including a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter, from  any service provider or public-facing organisation.

This includes:

  • educational establishments, for example schools
  • job interviews
  • their workplace
  • medical appointments
  • banks
  • council services

Our Translation and interpreting service provides communication professionals, to support communication between deaf and hearing people in those settings.

Our in-house BSL interpreter:

  • provides a BSL interpreting service, both online and in person
  • oversees the allocation of assignments, using our list of registered communication professionals

What is a BSL Interpreter

BSL is a complex and rich language with its own grammar that’s different to English.

A BSL/English interpreter is a person who has, or is working towards, a nationally recognised qualification in BSL and interpreting theory and practice.

BSL/English interpreters also take into account cultural differences when interpreting between a deaf and hearing person with different experiences and references.

All our BSL interpreters are members of The National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD), and:

  • have completed or are working towards the required complex and advanced training
  • are DBS checked
  • have the appropriate Personal Indemnity Insurance (PII) in place

How to work with a BSL interpreter

Read the National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind people’s Guide to working with a sign language interpreter or the National Union of BSL Interpreters Do’s and don’ts of working with an interpreter for:

  • information on British Sign Language interpreter services
  • guidance on how to work with sign language interpreters

Interpreter rates and how to book

The minimum booking fee for a BSL interpreter is £144, for assignments:

  • up to 3 hours during standard hours (between 8am and 6pm)
  • up to 2 hours for out of hours work (between 6pm and 8am, or on weekends and public holidays)

Each additional hour will be charged pro-rata at the following rates:

  • £48.00 per hour during standard hours (between 8am and 6pm)
  • £64.08 per hour for out of hours work (between 6pm and 8am, or on weekends and public holidays)

You’ll need two BSL interpreters if an assignment needs more than 1 hour of continuous interpreting, for example interpreting at staff training. The minimum booking fee applies to each interpreter.  

Travel expenses also apply. The interpreter can claim:

  • mileage charged at £0.45p per mile
  • bus tickets
  • train tickets
  • parking expenses

You can find a full list of rates, including what you need to pay if you cancel a BSL interpreter in our Charging and cancellation policy.

For support rates funded by Access to Work, contact us at

You can ask for a BSL interpreter through our online portal. You’ll need to register when you use it for the first time.

Book a BSL interpreter


Other types of communication professional for deaf and deafblind people

There are other types of communication professional depending on the needs of the deaf person and the setting.

Contact us to discuss the rates of these communication professionals.

Deaf relay interpreter

A deaf relay interpreter is a deaf person who can help deaf people who have additional communication needs.

This can be because they have:

  • limited language skills, and may not be fluent in BSL
  • a learning difficulty or mental health problem that affects their ability to communicate effectively.

Deaf relay interpreters work alongside a BSL interpreter. They adapt:

  • communication between the BSL interpreter and deaf person, to make sure they understand each other
  • communication from the deaf person into standardised  BSL for the interpreter, so that the BSL interpreter can interpret the BSL to English for hearing people

Deafblind interpreter

A deafblind interpreter can use BSL and either:

  • visual frame signing: for a person with restricted vision
  • hands-on signing: signing with the hands of the person they’re interpreting for placed over their hands, so the person can feel the signs being used by the interpreter


A lipspeaker repeats the words said without using their voice, so deaf people can read their lips easily.


A notetaker produces a set of notes:

  • manual notetakers take handwritten notes
  • electronic notetakers type a summary of what’s being said onto the deaf person’s laptop, or email the notes to them afterwards

Notetakers are usually used alongside other communication support, for example when people who are watching a sign language interpreter can’t take notes at the same time.

BSL video translations

A BSL video records a BSL translator, translating information from English to BSL.

The recording can be used on websites and at public services areas to make written or verbal information accessible to deaf BSL users.

Book one of these communication professionals

To book any of these services, or if you have any questions:

Learn BSL

There are many BSL courses available in Bristol and nearby. It’s best to take a course taught by a native BSL user who is also a qualified sign language teacher.

You can find a course near you on:


Other council services for deaf people

Other council services for deaf people:

Contact us

Translation and Interpreting Service

Opening hours

Monday to Thursday: 9am to 4.30pm
Friday: 9am to 4pm


Tel: 0117 903 6400