NRCPD 2020 Christmas Message

14 December 2020

It's that special time of year where we start reflecting on the past twelve months and 2020 has proven to be a year unlike any other. Like everyone, we started this year with very different plans.

The year started on a pivotal high as NRCPD became a fully independent and voluntary national regulator. This took significant staff effort and was a crucial goal we had been working towards for three years. We also developed a full staff team and moved to new offices in February, following our planned separation from Signature. Since then, we have concluded our review of the Complaints process contributions, improved the CPD policy and published a brand new CPD handbook and had our first Facebook livestream to engage with the public. We have also taken part in the crucial #WhereIsTheInterpreter campaign that Lynn Stewart-Taylor is currently leading, and launched the national NRCPD 2020 Survey for registrants and regulated trainees.

Even in the midst of Covid-19, NRCPD continues to play a central role in a national network of organisations in the sector, and with public bodies, institutions and the government. Throughout the year, we spent time engaging with the NHS, Crown Commercial Services, Ministry of Justice and the police, amongst many others, so that standards in the UK public sector are maintained with the provision of the right kind of language services for Deaf people. We began to further accelerate this engagement with a 2020 programme of outreach events, but Covid-19 did unfortunately put this on hold. The pandemic has also naturally meant that opportunities to engage with Westminster regarding regulatory matters have been limited, but we continue to seek these opportunities out, where possible.

The NRCPD registration service continued to be delivered at the standards you all expect and deserve, and with minimal impact throughout 2020. We made excellent progress with a new register for Deaf Relay Interpreters and have remapped interpreting qualifications to the 2017 National Occupational Standards. We also continue to look into a route to registration for Notetakers. We know it has been a source of frustration for the profession, but rest assured, it is on our agenda and hope that this resolves as soon as possible.

The NRCPD Complaints and Concerns process has gone from strength to strength and we have concluded our review of the Complaints Process which began last year. This takes place every five years and we have gathered a great deal of information that will be invaluable when prosecuting malpractice complaints for the next five years. Our duty in enforcing the Code of Conduct and acting appropriately in response to concerns and complaints remains as important as ever to ensure professionals on our registers provide the service that Deaf people rightly deserve and expect. This year, the majority of malpractice cases that we investigated were managed with advice, mediation or supervision and this can be very beneficial in improving and maintaining professional practice. Every so often, a case does progress to the Complaints Committee for a hearing and it is a difficult situation for all involved, but we will take the right action to protect our beneficiaries.

However, it is not only our services that are required to protect Deaf people from poor practice; we also need 'healthy' professions. This means that we need enough registered and qualified British Sign Language/English Interpreters and Translators, Lipspeakers, Notetakers, Speech-to-Text Reporters and Interpreters for Deafblind People to safely and to the highest standards, meet the access needs of the 11 million Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing people across the UK. Our overall register numbers do continue to grow and at the end of November 2020, we had 1,622 language service professionals on the NRCPD registers. We will also continue to work with you, the public and all those involved, so that NRCPD can regulate to the highest standards to positively shape professional practice and inspire public confidence in language service provision.

And as we all look forward to 2021, we hope that there will be an end to the public health crisis with normal business restored, we wanted to thank you for working tirelessly to deliver high quality language service provision in all corners of the country. We want to thank you for remaining on the Registers, in these testing times where livelihoods were endangered and work rapidly disappeared. We fully recognise impact the pandemic will have had on you as a professional, the financial pressures imposed and the adjustment from normal procedures that the situation has required. We have immense respect for you and for persevering through all this. Our greatest priority is that you remain on the registers and maintain the standards of professional practise, so that NRCPD can continue to protect Deaf, Deafblind and Hard of Hearing people throughout Covid-19 and beyond.

Once more, thank you for your skill, passion and commitment to your respective professions as a NRCPD Registered Language Service Professional and for making a difference to the lives of Deaf people, ensuring they get the right kind of access.

From everyone at NRCPD, we look forward to working with you in 2021 and wish you, your family and colleagues a very safe and happy Christmas.

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