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Communication support

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

Types of communication support

There are different types of communication professionals, including:

  • sign language interpreters, who enable communication between deaf sign language users and hearing people
  • speech-to-text reporters, who type every word that’s spoken and the text appears on a screen
  • notetakers, who type a real-time summary of what’s being said and the text appears on a screen
  • lipspeakers, who repeat every word that’s said, without using their voice, so people can lipread them easily
  • interpreters and communicator guides for people who are deafblind.

You can find out more about the types of communication support available in our leaflet Using communication support.

When to use 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
  • working 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.

Who pays for communication support

At work

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.

Find out more about your rights at work.

Find out more about Access to Work and how to apply if you’re in work or are looking for work.

When using public services

Public service providers have a responsibility to pay for communication support if you need it.

Find out more about your rights when using public services.

In education

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.

Find out more about Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs).

Choosing a registered communication professional

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.

All of RNID’s communication professionals, with the exception of notetakers, are registered with NRCPD or SASLI.

If you’re a business or public service looking to book communication support

RNID is the UK’s largest provider of communication support for people who are deaf or have hearing loss. We work with more than 600 qualified communication professionals to provide a first-class service.

Whether you need to make a one-off booking or arrange a longer-term contract, we’ll provide the communication support that best meets your requirements.