It was difficult to determine just how many BSL terps were actual union members, or if there was any sort of regulatory system to remove bad terps. Currently, 908 exist in the UK, and about 234 trainees.
How is the distribution? 66 In Scotland, with 9 trainees. Wales has listed 47. Do we assume Northern Ireland and England have the rest? It's a lottery really nobody really knows for sure.
Most are almost entirely freelance and unregulated, and please themselves who they support and when, having a captive client base, a lot are literally 'At their W.I.T.S.' end, as they row over the systems trying to organise them into a viable and regular/fixed identifiable access area to access for deaf needs of sign users, and answerable for their work (Regulation), along with an attempt to regularise wages. It is astounding that no such system really exists, putting deaf people at some risk. These scarce professionals are also migrating to areas where there is more work for them leaving more remote or rural areas with no cover for their deaf. They are following the work and money.
Recent and ongoing issues of UK welfare changes have left 2/3rd of deaf signers with no cover. There just isn't enough of them to deal with that and the 'bread and butter' Terp work of GP's, clinical areas etc... Deaf sign users wanting help to claim benefits were told BSL terps aren't there for the DWP to book. 60% in one area of Wales were then unable to claim any.
Nobody is questioning the bias these people have in promoting 'access' campaigns either. There have been complaints BSL interpreters are playing down the inclusion of captioning and subtitling to gain more work for themselves and by splitting up public information access videos into the BSL-only ones e.g. playing to the cultural gallery, and 'the rest' which is forcing systems to choose who gets the priority, or even assuming 'all deaf people sign.'. Non-signers are then being marginalised as they don't have the representation or organisation the deaf do, or indeed, the professionals to support THEM. It is a conundrum the minority are being more supported than the majority are.
Only TWO people were qualified in Wales to assist lip-readers. There are no records of any being used in the health areas, a lot said to be included (But not identified), within BSL statistics. Which actually bumps up BSL stats not includes non-signers. The overall image being there is no demand except that for BSL. It also suggests the non-signer needs to get organised or lose their access altogether. You don't demand you don't get.
UNITE cannot regulate this union either. Like other insitutions, nobody wants to challenge 'Disability' areas, their support, or their setups. By far the only way the deaf who sign, can get the support they claim to need is to stop bypassing the professionals and create the demand, even then they would be looking at another 10 years for that to happen. The huge cost of qualifying and the low wages are not making it realistic to many potential trainees. Short of the system making BSL training a free option or subsidising it..... not much will change.
It is alleged (There is no proof), that 125,000 deaf use sign language, albeit the census asked them and less than 1/5th claimed to be any regular users of it. This suggests most deaf don't want or use BSL, and/or as some suspect, they are ignoring Interpreters to utilise family instead or found alternatives to BSL Interpreters. We can only hope it may mean less reliance on BSL itself and they have more options available to them,.