NRCPD urges agencies to ensure that they provide the right, registered professional for assignments with deaf people.

08 December 2021

We are urging agencies to ensure that they book the right, registered professional for assignments and to have a 'deaf first' (or unlimited inclusion) perspective, rather than simply providing whoever is cheapest or is available.

We would like to see agencies asking the salient questions around the actual communicative needs of deaf* (Deaf, deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing) clients and to focus on inclusion, not just provision. Provision puts a person in the room; inclusion puts the right person (or persons) in the room.

Striving for inclusion means providing the right, registered professional to meet the understood and acknowledged needs of the deaf person.

Agencies, especially spoken language agencies, often have a lack of understanding over which type of communication professional is suitable for a booking with a deaf person. Providing 'the right professional' relies on an in-depth knowledge of the intricacies of the Deaf community and the communities within it.

A lot of agencies who provide professionals for bookings with deaf people may apply a 'one size fits all' approach: when they see the word 'deaf' they may assume that a British Sign Language/English Interpreter is what is required. However, not all deaf people communicate in British Sign Language, nor are fluent in the language - some communicate in English and by lipreading spoken English, and so working with an interpreter wouldn't be suitable. The demographics of the Deaf community mirror that of society; dual sensory loss, ethnic heritage, gender, and potential language deprivation are just some of the factors that need to be understood and addressed by agencies in providing for the breadth of communicative needs within the Deaf community.

The NRCPD Code of Conduct requires professionals on the registers to 'only carry out work for which they have the appropriate training, skills and experience'. This is a duty that assures the safety of the Deaf community by ensuring that professionals are applying best practice guidelines. However, when agencies do not provide enough information about assignments, it can make it very difficult for practitioners to make appropriate professional and ethical decisions. An approach that focuses on inclusion, rather than just provision, prioritises on getting the best information to inform the professional. By taking an 'inclusive approach', agencies can empower professionals to accept jobs that are within their competency (and reject those jobs that are not), which improves the services received by the Deaf community. You can find out more about the NRCPD Code of Conduct that NRCPD registered professionals should follow here:

Where framework contracts (such as some contracts for the NHS) have been given to large agencies who provide both spoken and non-spoken language services, a large portion of the contract is focused on spoken languages. As spoken language bookings make up most of the work, the importance of providing the right professional for the deaf client is severely diminished. Unfortunately, the profit-driver of agencies that don't specifically cater for the deaf community means they may have little motivation to meet the linguistic and cultural needs of deaf people as it doesn't necessarily affect their bottom line. Often the frequency of assignments with deaf people is too small a proportion to make a difference to their performance data too.

Whilst there are spoken language agencies who will partner with specialist deaf agencies or local Deaf organisations and take the time to try to understand the Deaf community, there is still the risk of a 'one size fits all approach'. Pressure from framework contracts or a lack of team training risks the thought of 'it's better to have someone in the room, than no-one at all.' This shows a real lack of understanding around the impact of an unregistered or insufficiently qualified/inexperienced practitioner in a booking with a deaf client. Unlimited inclusion for deaf people takes knowledge, effort, and commitment. It's not inclusion if it's not the right access.

We intend to put in place a voluntary standard for agencies to sign up to. We haven't started work on this yet, but it might be a charter or a quality mark that would highlight the agencies that meet the standards we expect. We hope that agencies will be keen to work with us when we do begin this work. It would encourage agencies to operate in a way that is value driven and put the deaf client's needs first by booking the right, registered professional for assignments.

If agencies are providing you with unregistered, unqualified, or inexperienced professionals, we would encourage you to let NRCPD know, and we will raise this with the agency.

The NRCPD registers include a breadth of registered Language Service Professionals to meet the varied communication preferences of all deaf people in the UK. These include Sign Language Interpreters, Intralingual Interpreters, Sign Language Translators, Lipspeakers, Speech to Text Reporters, Notetakers and Interpreters for Deafblind People.

We are not just asking agencies to provide a Language Service Professional to work with the deaf client, we are urging them to truly include the deaf client by providing them with the right, registered professional.

By NRCPD - The National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind people.

You can find out more on their website here: and on their Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also contact NRCPD via email at: and in BSL via VRS here:

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