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27 April 2022
Hello, my name is Dawn Marshall. I am one of three deaf trustees on NRCPD. The Chair, Liz Duncan is deaf and myself and Richard MacQueen are both Deaf and new lay members on the Board. There are also other members of the Board too who bring various experience and expertise to governing the NRCPD.
As you will know, NRCPD has been involved in the campaign to date, led by the British Deaf Association.
A little bit about NRCPD. NRCPD is a national register of language professionals working with the Deaf & Deafblind Community. The register holds a mixture of various professionals. BSL/English Interpreters, Translators, who are both Deaf and hearing people as well as STTRS, Notetakers, Deafblind Interpreters and others. Those who sign up to the register - which currently stands at 1,713 professionals do so for many various reasons, the main one being that our registrants show that are 'safe to practise'. The Register is voluntary and has been since 1982 although the organisation has changed its name over the years.
It is important to remind people that the Register currently does not have any legal weight or powers. It is not the same sort of Register that people are legally required to sign up to if you are a social worker, or accountant, police officer, nurse or a GP. They are regulated by a professional body that has legal powers to monitor the profession that they belong to. Unfortunately, language professionals within the Deaf community do not have a body that has legal powers like the General Medical Council, for example that can enforce things. If you would like to know more about statutory regulation, we have a website that explains it better. The weblink is www.nrcpd.org.uk/statutory-regulation
The importance of being registered with NRCPD is slowly being recognised by procurement organisations, particularly those who are in the public sector such as the NHS and the government. But there is still so much work we, as a community of Deaf people, of organisations, need to do to ensure that the language professionals that serve us are legally protected and monitored.
It is crucial that there is a register of language professionals that are legally protected to afford safety to all who use language services such as interpreting. We see so many stories of people that are not proficient in BSL acting as Interpreters, creating further risk to everyone around them. Both deaf and hearing people are not generally aware of standards, qualifications, and the amount of time and money spent by our language professionals to become qualified and the CPD they undertake to become proficient at what they do. They are routinely being undermined by those who sign a little and have little knowledge or skills and act as interpreters, posing risk to those around them. Procurement organisations have little knowledge of this too and this poses a very serious threat to our lives. Hopefully the Bill, if it becomes an Act will generate further awareness and put a stop to this.
Legal protection and status is NRCPD's biggest motivation for supporting the BSL Bill. We recognise that the Bill in its current form does not achieve all what the Deaf community needs. It does not immediately offer legal rights for Deaf children to be taught in BSL, for families to be given access to BSL from the beginning of their journey into the deaf world. It does not give immediate rights to healthcare, education, employment and citizenship for those of us who have BSL as our language. However it is hoped that the Bill, when it passes, will create a pathway to achieve all we deserve and more. But there is a lot of work ahead and this is NRCPD's commitment. NRCPD will continue to support our stakeholders, support and advise the government on priorities for action as well as holding them to account.