Communication professionals support deaf people, deafblind people and those with hearing loss in a range of situations.
If you’re deaf or have hearing loss
There are different types of communication professionals, including:
- sign language interpreters, who enable communication between deaf sign language users and hearing people. Read information about British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters
- speech-to-text reporters, who type every word that’s spoken and the text appears on a screen. Read information about speech-to-text reporters
- notetakers, who type a real-time summary of what’s being said and the text appears on a screen. Read information about notetakers
- lipspeakers, who repeat every word that’s said, without using their voice, so people can lipread them easily. Read information about lipspeakers
- interpreters and communicator guides for people who are deafblind. Read information about deafblind interpreters
You can find out more about the types of communication support available in our leaflet Using communication support.
If you need communication support, employers and public service providers should arrange it for you. This can be for situations such as:
- job interviews
- work meetings
- training courses
- medical appointments
- counselling sessions
- university or college lectures
- meetings with bank managers, solicitors and government officials.
If you are deafblind (have both sight loss and hearing loss), you can also get communication support to help you with your daily routine.
By law, your employer must pay for communication support you need to work.
The government’s Access to Work scheme can help your employer to cover the cost of any communication support and specialist equipment that you need to do your job.
You can also apply to the Access to Work scheme if you need communication support while looking for work, for example, at a job interview.
When using public services
Public service providers have a responsibility to pay for communication support if you need it.
Schools or colleges are responsible for communication support until you finish further education.
But if you’re in higher education (post-18 learning), you’ll need to apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) to help cover the cost of any communication support you need.
It’s important to always choose a registered professional. That way, you can be confident that they have the relevant qualifications, knowledge and skills.
To check if a communication professional is registered, use the National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD).
Sign language interpreters and deafblind interpreters in Scotland register with the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters (SASLI) or NRCPD, or both.
If you’re a business or public service looking to book communication support
With over 200 communication support providers in the UK, it’s important to always choose one that only uses registered communication professionals. That way, you can be confident that the communication professional has the relevant qualifications, knowledge, and skills.
If your organisation has used RNID to book Communication Support in the past, please contact your procurement/contracts department to find out who your new provider is.
If you would like support in choosing a new provider then Action Deafness, the leading deaf-led charity in the UK, and who we have previously partnered with, are our recommended provider. The experienced bookings team at Action Deafness will work with you to facilitate single or repeat appointments and connect you with fully qualified and experienced communication professionals.