The BSL Act and Deaf Business
Last week we were delighted to read the amazing news that the UN Committee has clearly stated that the UK Government needs to grant deaf people “the right to educated high-quality sign language interpretation” – (British Deaf Association, BDN Magazine, 31st August 2017)
The British Deaf Association has rightly, ceased upon this opportunity to once again raise the urgent need for a BSL Act in England. We agree and support this campaign which will see a much improved service from communication professionals working with deaf people.
But what does this mean for Deaf people in business?
Business like any other sector has its own special way of talking about itself, its purpose and activities. For example:
Education & Research – has a very distinct language especially once you get to higher levels of academic language which can be challenging for even native English speakers.
Police & The Law – has both a complex structure and specialist language that takes many years of learning to be able to understand fully.
Medical & Health – although we all have our own experience of medical and health, does that make us qualified to understand medical language, procedures and medicines?
What about business?
Business happens all over the world at every level. It too has its own specialist language, concepts and activities. Most people in business have had to complete specialist training in order to run a business.
This does not include the many types of specialist training that is on offer to help business people, learn, grown and develop into competent and successful business people.
Do interpreters currently have the training and education to provide high level business interpretation? This is a very important question that should be explored further.
We would not send an interpreter without appropriate medical training into a hospital. So why do we use interpreters without business training into our business activities?
- Are they are aware of customer focused sales?
- Do they know appropriate BSL business vocabulary? (For example ‘Incentivised sales’ or ‘Lead generation’ or ‘Conversion rates’)
- Are interpreters confident in business conferences with high level jargon use?
What are the risks without a BSL act?
Without this specialist knowledge, how are interpreters able to accurately interpret your sales appointments?
Is the reason you lost a sale because your product was not what the customer wanted?
Or could it be that the interpreter has misrepresented you, your product or your sales strategy?
Is it possible that lack of specialist business training for interpreters could be delaying the success of deaf people in business?
This is not to criticise interpreters! We know and appreciate they train for many years and work very hard. Deaf people could not run their business without them!
This is about how interpreters are trained and how we, as a Deaf business community, support interpreter training & education. So we can get the best out of communication professionals we work alongside.
A BSL Act could also help to funnel much needed resources to help develop specialist BSL signs for use in business. BSL still does not have enough specialist signs to appropriately express complex business jargon. This has already been developed in areas such as science and technology.
It is vital that we consider carefully, do interpreters have access to appropriate business training? Does this include specialist BSL vocabulary for commonly used in business jargon?
If not… why not?
This is something that a BSL Act could help to develop and enforce; appropriate specialist training for interpreters working in business setting. This will help to elevate deaf people in business at an equal level to hearing people.
Many Deaf business people are still being left behind mainstream business. One of the reasons could be lack of specialist business interpreters.
To compete with mainstream business more effectively, we need interpreters who understand business language, culture and strategies as well as we do!
The challenge of the UN Committee to the UK Government, does give us more power and a real opportunity to show that by NOT having a BSL Act, deaf people continue to be treated unequally.
Deaf business people deserve to the have the best, specially trained business interpreters, to help them communicate effectively during the course of their business activities!
Deaf business people are talented and successful in business but without the same high-level, specially trained interpreters to support their work, we will still get left behind.
Thank you British Deaf Association for highlighting this important issue, and we will continue to ask the difficult questions, challenge inequality and support campaigns for change.