Interpreting Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

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BSL, Lip-Speaking, SSE and Palantype

Our professional Palantypists, British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters, lip-speaking and Sign-Supported English (SSE) experts can offer support UK-wide

British Sign Language (BSL)

The Department for Work and Pensions reckon there are about 70,000 British Sign Language users in Britain – according to some surveys, Sign Language is used by many more than this. Knockhundred is frequently called upon to provide professional BSL interpreting support.

“Thanks again for sorting this [British Sign Language interpreting], always a pleasure to work with you.”

Leadership and Empowerment Manager,

“Following on from the conference yesterday, I am writing on behalf of everyone at the Meningitis Trust, to say a huge thank you for providing us with two fantastic BSL interpreters. The feedback from the delegates who needed the translation was extremely positive. ‘BSL interpreters up to scratch, not always at large events these days’. ‘The [BSL] interpreters were very good, I will be happy to use them again in any further events’. They were both able to deal with the emotional, scientific and medical content as well as the various presenting styles in the high professional standard that we had hoped for.”

The Meningitis Trust

Our professional British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters are experienced in working between British Sign Language and English.

British Sign Language interpreters and qualifications

When you book a British Sign Language interpreter, please bear in mind that you will need an appropriately qualified interpreter for your particular assignment:

  • A Junior Trainee Interpreter (JTI) is likely to be qualified up to Level 3 NVQ and will have competent BSL skills in both listening and speaking.
  • A Trainee Interpreter (TI) is likely to be qualified up to level 4 NVQ and will be able to use complex language and express themselves fluently in sign language.
  • A Member of the Register (MRSLI) will have met nationally recognised standards agreed by the Interpreter Registration Standards. Such interpreters are highly skilled in the use of BSL and English.

We will be happy to advise which level will best suit your needs.

Lead time needed to book a British Sign Language Interpreter

Please note that fully trained and professional British Sign Language interpreters are scarce in the UK. For that reason, you should give us as much notice as possible if you need to book a BSL interpreter.

Before booking one of our BSL interpreters, we advise that you check that the deaf person involved does indeed use BSL as their preferred form of communication – not all deaf people use British Sign Language.

Other options include:

  • Lip Speaking
  • Sign Supported English
  • Speech to Text

Some of our British Sign Language Interpreting services

Knockhundred offers many different types of BSL interpreting services, including:

  • British Sign Language interpreters for business meetings
  • British Sign Language court interpreting
  • British Sign Language interpreting for legal meetings/conference
  • British Sign Language interpreters for medical consultations
  • British Sign Language interpreting for interviews
  • British Sign Language interpreting at disciplinary hearings

Contact us with your requirements and we will do our very best to match the most suitable and appropriately qualified BSL interpreter with your assignment.

Working with BSL users and British Sign Language interpreters

You’ll need to tell us how many Deaf and hearing people will be present and how long the event is likely to last. This may affect how many sign language interpreters you will need. Any assignment lasting over two hours will usually require two British Sign Language interpreters.

If working alone, remember that the BSL interpreter will need a break every 20 to 30 minutes.

During an assignment, speak clearly and avoid using abbreviations or jargon. Speak directly to (and face) the deaf person, not the sign language interpreter. Allow time for the deaf person to look at any visual materials before discussing them.

If you have any background documentation or notes that can be supplied before the assignment, this is always appreciated by our BSL interpreters.

In order that the British Sign Language interpreter is able to provide the best possible service on the day, the sign language user and the interpreter must be able to see each other clearly, and that those relying on spoken English can hear the interpreter clearly.

Palantype (Speech-To-Text/Stenography)

A Palantypist uses a special shorthand keyboard to simultaneously take verbatim notes of what is being said so that it appears on a screen.

This can sometimes be displayed on a simple laptop with the Deaf or hard of hearing person sitting next to the Palantypist.

For larger events where there maybe a number of people requiring support, the verbatim transcript can be displayed on a large overhead screen.

We are able to provide edited or unedited transcripts of any event using the services of one our Palantypists.

This kind of verbatim note-taking is also used in court rooms via court reporters to ensure everyone’s rights are protected during a legal process.

Just let us know what you need and we will do the rest!

Sign Supported English (SSE)

A Sign Supported English interpreter will take what is being said and using British Sign Language signs will put them in the grammatical order that the words would be spoken in English.

This form of communication is usually used to support spoken English.  It is used in schools with children who are hard-of-hearing to complement their learning of English grammar.

Sign Supported English or SSE is also a popular form of communication for people who mix mainly with hearing people.

If you need a Sign Supported English interpreter, do please get in touch with details of your requirements.


A lip-speaker is a hearing person who has been specially trained so that s/he is easy to lipread.  They do not necessarily use their voices but they clearly reproduce the shape of the words, use facial expressions and sometimes finger spelling to help the lipreader to understand what is being said.

When booking a lip-speaker it is useful for us to know whether the lip-reader prefers the addition of finger spelling, sign language and with or without voice.

Lead time needed to book a Palantypist, SSE interpreter or Lip-speaker

Please note that fully trained and professional interpreters able to provide this kind of support are scarce in the UK. For that reason, you should give us as much notice as possible if you need to book somebody.

If you need somebody to attend for more than 2 hours, it is likely that you will need to book two Palantypists or interpreters to attend.

Before making your booking, we advise that you check that the deaf person involved does indeed use the relevant form of communication – not all deaf people use British Sign Language for example.



Interpreting Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Case Study.

NHS West Kent Dermatology | 2023
We work closely with the dermatology departments in Kent and Sussex providing language and BSL interpreters to support crucial communication between the staff and patients. Often attending an appointment in a hospital is a worrying and challenging time, so we are pleased to be able to offer experienced and professional interpreting support to ensure the patient fully understands the discussions with medical staff.
  • On demand interpreting service.
  • Hundreds of interpreters have attended since 2021.
  • British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting.
  • Attending on-site at different locations across Kent and Sussex.
“Your interpreter was excellent. Please pass on our thanks.”

We add new languages every day to our list of capabilities.  As fast as we build up a linguistic team able to deliver a particular service,  we try and add the details to our website so you can see what is possible.  We can already handle over 200 languages and the number is growing daily.  Head over to our languages page to find out how we can help you.

Get in touch with one of our lovely project managers and they would be very happy to discuss all the available options with you.

Do also take a look at the security procedures and infrastructure we already have in place to protect your data.

Alternatively, you can call us or send an email:
+44 (0)1544-388040

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