Office of the President and Provost (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion)


How to Book a Sign Language Interpreter

Information on how to book a sign language interpreter

Be prepared in advance

Not all deaf people require the services of a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter so an enquiry should be made in order that the most appropriate language service professionals (LSPs) can be arranged for an interview or meeting. There is a current national shortage of LSPs so you will need to be able to give as much notice as possible, at minimum two weeks, to guarantee service provision. The earlier the booking, the greater the likelihood of sourcing the most appropriately skilled interpreter for the assignment.


Interpreters should be registered with The National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD). In order to register, interpreters will have obtained a specific level of training, professional indemnity insurance and an enhanced DBS check. Their online directory can be found on the National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People. To verify that an interpreter you have booked is registered, please check the directory. 

Should you wish to engage with an agency to meet your interpreting needs, there will be an additional administrative cost but this will include sourcing an interpreter on your behalf. There are an increased number of agencies who provide sign language interpreters; to ensure quality check that they provide registered interpreters. 


Once an interpreter is booked they should be provided with preparation materials; these can include an agenda, minutes, meeting documentation, PowerPoint presentations, speaker's notes, lecture notes, etc. The preparation enables the interpreter to become familiar with your topic area, the names of people to be mentioned and further papers published by presenters, and to ensure that they have the appropriate schema for the job. Without preparation, interpreters have to make a greater cognitive effort and this will affect the quality of their interpreting. As with any interpretation there will be a short delay between you saying your sentence and this being translated. Whilst you do not need to speak more slowly, be aware that the deaf person will receive the message a little after everyone else. Take advice from the deaf person as to seating arrangements and a suitable position for the interpreter. Whilst interpreters are there to facilitate communication, remember to speak directly to the deaf person and not the interpreter. 

Access to Work

For interpreting provision within the workplace, deaf employees can apply to Access to Work to meet the costs; see Access to Work. Deaf job applicants can also get funding from Access to Work for an interpreter to accompany them to a job interview at UCL. All other interpreting costs should be met by departments as part of their obligations to make reasonable adjustments.

Contact equalities@ucl.ac.uk for further information.