Three recent blog posts from Aisha Maniar, a human rights activist and writer, are absolutely brilliant. They’re informative, comprehensive and offer us an insight into the whole history of the pitfalls of privatising interpreting services and the government’s incessant drive to do so.
For BSL/English Interpreters it is so important that we understand the context and politics of what happens to the contracts we are booked under, that we join a union (NUBSLI) and support our counterparts: spoken language interpreters.
I re-blog the articles here for anyone who may not have seen them yet. They really are worthy of your time, please read.
Who Benefits from the Privatisation of Public Sector Interpreting? Part I
Who Benefits from the Privatisation of Public Sector Interpreting? Part II
Who Benefits from the Privatisation of Public Sector Interpreting? Part III
As reported on the Limping Chicken blog earlier in the week, over 1000 signatories signed the open letter to Francis Maude MP, asking him to #ScrapTheFramework.
The letter included Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite the Union, leading campaign organisations and several MPs.
You can read the letter on NUBSLI’s campaign page.
This framework will change the way interpreting services are delivered to Deaf people in the UK, as well as covering all spoken language interpreting and other communication support such as lip speakers, deafblind interpreters, note takers and speech to text reporters. Privatisation of a whole sector in one go.
There is still work to be done in making representations to the Crown Commercial Service as there is a proposed two-hour minimum for interpreters and no travel expenses.
Aside from terms and conditions and fees the actual framework needs much more work. There are no stipulations about where Trainee Sign Language Interpreters (TSLIs) are able to work leaving agencies able to put Trainees into child protection and mental health. The NRCPD’s view. As long as registration is stipulated that is fine. It is not. Registered is RSLI: Registered Sign Language Interpreter. TSLI is on the register but not registered. Confused? So is everyone else. Trainees have yet to reach the National Occupational Standards and as such need to be protected and Deaf people safeguarded appropriately. NRCPD states on their website that Trainees should not work in legal settings and mental health. NRCPD, do what you say and tell the CCS no Trainees in mental health. Child protection should be explicitly stated too. As an unwritten rule the interpreting community has recognised this area as a no go for Trainees for years due to its legal as well as it’s moral nature.
On the spoken language interpreting side, there are low level qualifications stated for all areas, leaving the quality of provision dangerously low. Given that most agencies are motivated by profit the lowest possible common denominator gets the job not who is the most suitable. Private contracts are hardly safe when monitoring is left in the hands of private agencies who can make up their own figures (cf Ministry of Justice framework and ALS now Capita TI).
The way Deaf people are talked about is patronising and erroneous. “Non-spoken”, interpreters enable Deaf people “to access hearing” and if you are Deafblind you have access to video relay services. Hardly written from the basis of good knowledge and practice, or even common sense. No. This framework is a disaster waiting to happen.