Guidance and Advice for Public Services

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External Policy on engaging BSL/English Interpreters

Welsh Assembly

 The Welsh Assembly - Delivering in British Sign Language: Advice for Public Services



 Ministry of Justice Guidance - Courts, Family and Civil proceedings -




 Agreement on the Arrangements for the Attendance of Interpreters in Investigations and Proceedings within the Criminal Justice System (Crown Prosecution Service) Trials issues group information is from 2002 

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Working Together to Safeguard Children (Dept of Health, Home Office, Dept for Education and Employment)


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NHS Improving the quality of interpreting in primary care 

Mental Health

The Mental Health Act (1983) Code of Practice (1:4) states:

  • Local and Health Authorities and Trusts should ensure that ASWs, doctors, nurses and others receive sufficient guidance in the use of interpreters and should make arrangements for there to be an easily accessible pool of trained interpreters.
  • The ‘Sign of the Times The National Strategy for Modernising Mental Health Services for People who are Deaf’ consultation paper has begun to address the issues regarding the use of appropriately qualified interpreters within the field of mental health. ( Sign of the Times: Modernising Mental Health Services for people who are Deaf; Department of Health 2002)
  • The DoH has also published the Towards Equity and Access Report concerned with access within Mental Health.


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Public Bodies accepting Interpreted or Relayed Phone calls

 The Equality Commission advises that refusing to take calls involving a third party from disabled people would be likely to be a breach of the Equality Act.

“A bank has a policy not to accept calls from customers through a third party. This could amount to indirect discrimination against a disabled person with a learning disability who may use a support worker to call the bank. The right sort of approach is to make sure the customer’s records show anyone who deals with them that they may be communicating using a support worker. This is also likely to be a reasonable adjustment.”

‘What equality law means for your business’,Equality and Human Rights Commission 2010


The Information Commissioner advises that taking calls via a relay service would not be a breach of the Data Protection Act.

 “If any individual contacts an organisation using Typetalk [now Text Relay] or a sign language interpreter we would expect the same level of security to be in place as with any customer. This would include ensuring that adequate security questions were asked to authenticate that the customer is who they say they are before discussing any account details. Once the individual had been authenticated the organisation would be able to answer the enquiry for the customer through the Typetalk operator. The customer who has contacted Typetalk will be aware that information will be disclosed to the operator in order for this to be relayed to them. We would consider that the customer had effectively consented to their information being used in this way.”

Letter to TAG from the Information Commissioner’s Office, published in Sequel (TAG newsletter) spring 2006

Guidance taken from Ofcom: