Hearing Link

Communication support

What is a Communication Professional or Language Service Professional?

Communication support is provided by Communication Professionals (or Language Service Professionals) for hard of hearing, deaf, deafened, Deaf and deafblind people in situations such as a work meeting, job interview, GP consultation, courtroom etc.

Access to Work will often fund the services of a Communication Professional in work-related circumstances.

The Equality Act 2010 states that we are entitled to equality of access at work, in education and for the purposes of everyday services. This means, for example, that a local authority organising a public meeting should provide some form of communication support.

What kinds of Communication Professionals are there?

  • Verbatim Speech to Text Reporters (STTR – sometimes known as Palantypists)

Using a special phonetic keyboard linked to a laptop computer, the spoken word is transformed into the written word and often displayed on a computer screen or a large screen at the front of the meeting. The STTR works at speed and so the odd imperfection will creep in. They will also include any relevant sounds e.g. laughter, door opening.

Association of Verbatim Speech to Text Reporters: www.avsttr.org.uk

  • Manual note-takers

Often work with deaf and hard of hearing students in classrooms and lecture theatres.  They take handwritten notes providing a summary of what is said rather than a verbatim report.

  • Electronic note-takers

Provide a summary of the proceedings using laptop computers.  The software they often use is known as SpeedText.  They can often type faster than someone can write using a pen and, of course, the printed version is sometimes easier to read than handwriting.

Jane Bevan CACDP Level II Electronic Notetaker for Deaf People writes… “The main purpose of electronic note taking is to link to a separate screen for deaf client to read in real time, just as an STTR does as well as offering ‘notes’ for the client to read afterwards.

Many deaf people find our services more manageable in terms of the number of words they have to read – I describe it to people as ‘with us, you get all of the meaning but not all of the words’ as we summarise what is being said into something more manageable (we do also add the ‘door opening/mobile phone goes off’ information, just as an STTR will do.)

Of course, there are times when a full verbatim service offered by an STTR is what a client needs or wants, but for other occasions, with those costs being substantially more than ours, it may be that Access to Work will meet the cost of a qualified electronic notetaker but not that of an STTR.  (In addition, our more ‘digestible’ notes, which the client can have for use after the event, are generally a very useful provision.)”

Association of Note-taking Professionals: www.anpnotetakers.co.uk

  • Sign Language Interpreters

Interpret between people who use British Sign Language and those who use spoken English.

Association of Sign Language Interpreters: www.asli.org.uk

  • Lipspeakers

Repeat the speaker’s message by moving their lips but without using their voices.  They reproduce the shape of the words with exceptional clarity, the rhythm and stress of natural speech.  Lipspeakers also use facial expression and fingerspelling.

Association of Lipspeakers: www.lipspeaking.co.uk

  • LSP – deafblind manual

A deafblind manual alphabet is used to relay a conversation to a person who is deaf/blind.

How to book a Communication Professional

Look on the National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People or click on one of the links above to find a Communication Professional near you.

Signature is a charity which promotes excellence in communication with deaf and deafblind people, primarily by encouraging greater understanding of the languages and communication methods they use.

Making the NHS accessible

The new Accessible Information Standard came into play in August 2016 across England. Its aim is to make sure that all organisations who provide NHS or social care make their information accessible for all people in a way they can understand and by providing any communication support they need.

This means you should tell your NHS/social care professional:

  • If you lipread, use hearing aids, cochlear implants, hearing loop systems or British Sign Language
  • What communication support you require for appointments e.g. a lipspeaker, speech-to-text reporter, notetaker, BSL interpreter
  • How you wish them to contact you e.g. by telephone, email, SMS/text or Text relay

Print out this Communication Card and template letter, produced by Action on Hearing Loss, and hand them to the practice manager at your GP surgery to ensure that your communication needs are met.

More information about the Accessible Information Standard can be found here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/patients/accessibleinfo/

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