Communication - BSL/English Interpreters



0800 014 1401
North East, North West, South East, South West


Who is the service for?
Disabled People


49 Albany Street, City Centre, EDINBURGH, EH1 3QY
0131 556 3128




Covid-19 UPDATE...

Our BSL Interpreting Duty Service is still running every Tuesday and Thursday using WhatsApp video calls.

Interpreting duty service are available at the following times:

Every Tuesday: 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Every Thursday: 10:00am - 12:00pm

To book a slot for interpreter duty, email or text 07860018761.

Normal service details...

British Sign Language interpreters work between two languages to facilitate communication between deaf* people who use British Sign Language (BSL) and those that use English. British Sign Language/English interpreters assist deaf and hearing people in communicating with one another.

Deaf Action currently has a team of registered BSL Interpreters that work in a variety of settings. Combined, we have over 45 years of interpreting experience. Our interpreters are all skilled, experienced and registered professionals that receive continuous training and support. We also have a group of registered, professional freelance interpreters to ensure that we can offer you the type of communication support you need.

There are 70 British Sign Language/English Interpreters in Scotland registered with the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters (SASLI). They provide communication support to the estimated 12,500 deaf BSL users in Scotland. Deaf Action is a registered SASLI agency. Our interpreters are registered with either SASLI or NRCPD.

Please remember: A BSL/English Interpreter is not permitted to offer personal advice or opinions. Deaf Action interpreters adhere to a strict code of practice ensuring a confidential and impartial service.

How people use our BSL/English Interpreters

Below are just some examples of where our BSL interpreters work:

- Health Appointments: GP, dentist, hospital, optician, podiatrist etc.
- Employment: job interviews, staff and client meetings etc
- Theatre: Q&A events, shows, pantomimes, musicals etc
- Legal: solicitor appointments, Police dealings, Court cases
- Community: accessing groups, attending classes
- Council Services: council appointments and meetings
- Parliamentary Business: for public and private meetings and consultations
- Conferences, Seminars or Workshops

BSL/English Interpreters are suitable for:

- People who use British Sign Language (remember not all deaf people will use BSL)
- Communicating with deaf BSL users
- Working with English/BSL Interpreters

BSL/English Interpreters facilitate communication between deaf people who use British Sign Language (BSL) and hearing people who use English.

Providing prior information and materials for our BSL/English Interpreters allows us to work more effectively and prepare for the booking in advance; prior information may include minutes of previous meetings, presentations, notes or theatre scripts.

Simultaneous interpreting of dialogue between two languages is very demanding and becomes tiring after prolonged periods. Some assignments may require more than one interpreter; all day events and conferences may require a team of interpreters.

BSL/English Interpreters listen to the spoken English and interpret it into Sign Language, or will watch the Sign Language and translate it into spoken English. The interpreter has to listen and watch before they can interpret so there may be a short time delay.

Occasionally interpreters will need to clarify what has been said or signed to ensure a correct translation can be given. This is an important part of interpretation and contributes to better communication and understanding.

When working with a BSL/English Interpreter:

- Ensure the deaf person is seated with a clear view of both the interpreter and the speaker
- Sign or speak clearly and at your normal pace
- Ensure that only one person signs or speaks at a time – In larger meetings It may be useful to raise your hand when you want to speak as this also indicates to the deaf person who is speaking
- Address the person directly and avoid phrases such as “tell him” or “ask her”
- Allow regular breaks for the interpreter

Please do not:

- Ask the interpreter for an opinion
- Attempt to engage the interpreter in conversation whilst working
- Refer to people as “deaf and dumb” or “deaf mute” as these terms are no longer acceptable. The word ‘deaf’ is sufficient.

A BSL/English Interpreter is not an advocate or a social worker and is not permitted to offer personal advice or opinions. Deaf Action’s interpreters adhere to a strict code of practice ensuring a confidential and impartial service.

Booking costs for our Communication Services...

Please see

To book a BSL interpreter call:

Text: 0131 557 0419
SMS: 07797 800 064

Please see to access the booking form.

Other Services Run By

Deaf Action

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Registered Office: 525 Ferry Road, Edinburgh EH5 2FF