Basically, its an attempt at terp unity because systems/agencies are trying to establish a fee norm and do what BSL Interpreters are refusing to do, set up an accountable and visibly monitored system of Interpreter work practices and make them accountable. The random nature of BSL support is because of the 'freelance' nature of it,, this is not adequate to establish a proper deaf support system or identifiable sign support area, systems and the deaf can easily access or control. It has meant rural deaf etc left with no help at all as terps gravitate to 'where the money is..' It is essential to note BSL Interpreters are still refusing to be accountable to anyone, least of all their clients.
This is all about money and the systems demanding a more identifiable support network that they can access when a deaf client requests help. It would appear the systems and agencies are trying to establish a wage norm too, which terps claim will make their job unviable. Via these shenanigans and rows over wages and booking, BSL users are being held to ransom, is it not time the deaf had some input?
By having control over who they book, this will establish real demand too. A BSL terp said 'I would oppose clients holding the wage cards... my job in their hands would be unacceptable.. I would stop interpreting.' The system is saying 'We need to establish a visible and reliable area to book from, at present, WE are being held to ransom by the nature of BSL support..' This appears to be backed up via areas like the DWP too, who say that the recent changes to welfare allowances and assessments meant as many as 46% of clients were unable to be assessed because the 'BSL System' could not meet the demand.' BSL terps are the sole support deaf use but deaf are being used as pawns in some power game that allows Interpreters to fix own wages, please themselves who they help, or when they turn up... Quite rightly, 'this is no way to run an essential support system.'
All this is taking place as deaf activism is demanding more and more BSL usage, education, and access, they are going to find there is nobody to enable that to happen. Ergo, the BDA currently claim 150,000 BSL users, the UK has just about 300 or so BSL terps, if nobody can see the problem here...
A new platform co-op, SignCo, is being formed for BSL English interpreters and translators, in a hid to halt a “race to the bottom” in the profession.
The team behind the Merseyside venture says agencies have been dictating fees, terms and conditions in recent years, and wants to “change contract culture in favour of end suppliers (translators), end-users and health professionals”.
As a result, said SignCo, “health services have struggled to make their services accessible due to the poor provision created by the current procurement model”.
The co-op will be run democratically by its members, who will include service users as well as interpreters and translators. It will consult with all users to co-create a service that works for health staff, users and workers.
Members will co-design an online booking platform and hold discussions over how it should work. Once the platform is up and running, SignCo says it will “use it to get NHS contracts and provide a better service for all”.
SignCo’s founders – Jen Smith, Wes Mehaffy, Kate Boddy and Nicky Evans – have already surveyed NHS staff and service users in Merseyside and are being helped by Co-operatives UK and co-op support programme the Hive.