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Thursday, 3 April 2014

Interpreter Training: It's Not All About Working From One Language to Another

Our guest blogger, Kim Helman, speaks about the ins and outs of interpreter training and what to expect. 

It felt great finally submitting my NVQ Level 6 BSL portfolio last summer, completing all the language assessments felt like finishing school! One thing still bothered me; I didn’t feel even close to being able to do what BSL interpreters do.  Ever the optimist I applied to join an interpreter training course starting in the autumn – once again planning to benefit from the feedback and pointers I’d receive when rejected. I duly did my preparation, recorded myself interpreting a 2-way conversation and wrote up my analysis, painfully aware that what I was reviewing looked and sounded worlds away from the interpreting art form I observed in RSLIs.


I naively assumed that interpreter training would largely be about switching from one language to the other quickly after all, isn’t that what interpreters do? Yes, in the same way that symphony conductors wave sticks about and Shakespeare wrote some stuff that rhymed. 


Interpreter training has blown my mind! From ethical decision making, via the various elements of processing to discourse analysis, every lesson has been utterly fascinating and not once have we been taught how to ‘switch languages really fast’. Like Alice falling through the rabbit hole, each discovery is as exciting as it is daunting... piece by piece revealing glimpses of a world I had only seen the surface of and I am desperate to fully understand.


With all the usual financial responsibilities of living in the South East, I am still working full time in a non-BSL related role whilst I am training. I am acutely aware of my need to gain experience and so proactively seek out volunteering opportunities and have been fortunate to interpret in a variety of settings, always mindful of my limitations and responsibility to turn opportunities down where the situation demands the skills of a qualified interpreter. 



I have made lots of discoveries during my volunteering. I have learnt that it’s not easy to determine which assignments might be straight forward and which might present challenges. After interpreting for a mixed group of Deaf, hard of hearing and hearing people taking part in a focus group about road safety, I reflected on how comfortable I had felt. I had made mistakes and at times felt a little overwhelmed but I had expected that and worse. In contrast, I felt pretty confident before interpreting communication in a peer support group, a nice gentle, social setting... and yet I have never felt less competent. I have learnt that sometimes more informal chatter can present more of a challenge than formal work settings, even when considering the presence of jargon – because it is easier to research and prepare for that than conversations changing directions, sentences being left unfinished and overlapping speech.

I have also learnt that I CAN manage my nerves as long as I prepare, arrive early and insert encouraging mantras into my shaky internal monologue. Certainly being able to meet the clients before the assignment, even for just a few moments, has been key to my more successful moments.



Looming on the horizon is the moment I will have to stop exclusively hiding behind the volunteer role and start putting all my training into practice. This makes me nervous and excited in equal measure; this is a profession I greatly admire and becoming a part of that feels like a significant responsibility. I know that I will always do my best and I do not underestimate the importance of preparation and considered reflection. Fortunately I continue to be fascinated by this profession and enjoy reading about the theory (almost) as much as I enjoy the practical. I still have mountains to climb and appreciate that I have only dipped a toe into this world, but I can honestly say that I am pleased to have fallen down this particular rabbit hole!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

terptree's 3rd event for Communication Professionals: grins of happiness at terptree HQ in celebration of an exceptionally successful event!

terptree's 3rd event for Communication Professionals: grins of happiness at terptree HQ in celebration of an exceptionally successful event!

 terptree's event - crowd watching presenter
So, how are we feeling at terpree HQ after such a successful event last Thursday?

"still actually buzzing from Thursday night!"
"it was a great evening"
"thrilled to see the benefits that an event like this brings"


HMS terptree really set sail for our third event for Communication Professionals right in the heart of London.  On arriving back in the office on Friday morning, the amazing emails, phonecalls, and Facebook and twitter comments from you all that came pouring in confirmed that these events continue to be a great success.

Here is how you felt us the day after:

Photo of Esther Thomas, Daniel Roberts and Victoria Williamss  Esther Thomas, Interpreter RSLI
  Big thank you to terptree for an
  amazing evening!  An agency who
  puts on a free event (social and
  training) just to say thank you!  I
  am well impressed.

  Lynne Dubin, Lipspeaker
  Thank you so much for the great evening last night. Not only the superb venue, (free) drink and food but also a very interesting introduction and overview to working in the testing environment that mental health services provides for all professional groups.

Another so useful aspect of these evenings that you provide for us all is the opportunity to network with people we would otherwise not meet at all or only on the job without time to have real conversations.

terptree's event - crowd minglingChristof Niklaus, Deaf Interpreter
Thank you terptree for a great night at your event for Communication Professionals on board the R.S. Hispaniola, which was a great experience.

Susan O'Rourke gave a great insight into many of the issues relating to mental health and deafness which
was very interesting and relevant to BSL Interpreters and deaf relay interpreters.  A real eye opener that was. Look forward to the next one, be it on land or water!

What happened on the night!

A total of over 70 Communication Professionals attended this event, almost tripling the number of people that came to our event less than 6 months earlier.  It was fantastic to see some new faces and to catch up with the existing people we know and love.

terptree's guests were welcomed aboard R.S. Hispaniola by our very own Claire; and then off into the boat to spend some time catching up with one another.  A great opportunity to network, see old friends and meet new colleagues too.

Then on to enjoy welcome drinks and a buffet before being seated for the presentations of the evening.

Victoria presenting at the event  Victoria opened the event by saying
  that one of her goals when setting
  up terptree back in 2006, was to
  offer free opportunities for gaining
  CPD, networking and supporting
  one another. She explained that
  she was touched to see so many
  Communication Professionals in
  attendance who clearly feel the same.

Victoria talked about the fact that this event is unique in the sense that it is open to the whole range of Communication Professionals who work with deaf people.  She remarked upon the distance that some had traveled to attend - Worcestershire, Somerset, Manchester and Staffordshire to name a few!

She talked about current projects at terptree and also stressed the importance of Communication Professionals getting in touch and telling us what terptree can do for you!

The Globe tickets giveaway

Photo of Globe Theatre  Marion Quemby won our free giveaway of 4
  tickets to see the Deafinitely Theatre
  production of 
Midsummer Night’s Dream at
  The Globe
, London on Friday 6 June 2014 at
  7.30pm.
  The terptree team will be going with Marion and
  friends - so if you have tickets for the performance on Friday 6 June - let us know and we will meet you there!

Sue O'Rourke, Clinical Psychologist and newly-registered Interpreter RSLI 

Photo of Sue O'Rourke  Before starting her presentation,
  Sue gave a touching tribute to Nick
  Kitson. 
  When Sue was a new trainee back
  around 1989, Nick was a
  Consultant, being Sue's first
  Psychiatrist to work with.  Nick very
  sadly passed away unexpectedly,
  with his funeral on the day of our
  event - so Sue dedicated her
  presentation to him.  She joked that
  Nick taught her that it is OK to have
  profound disagreements with
  someone and still like them and go
  to the pub with them afterwards!

When talking about her recent registration as RSLI - she talked about her new found empathy, now realising just how hard it is!

Sue then went on to give us a thorough overview of what a Communication Professional should expect on considering to work within mental health settings and why working in mental health is not right for everyone.  She informed attendees about the range of services available to deaf people and explained the differences between working in a specialist deaf service compared to a mainstream service.

It was fascinating to learn about the range of common mental health problems and what affects these have on deaf people compared with hearing people, especially when experiencing hallucinations.

Our guests remarked upon the excellent guest speaker and we would personally like to offer a huge thank you to Sue for giving us all your time and offering your expertise in the area of mental health and deafness.

To see more photos and feedback from the night - click here to take a look at our Facebook page.

The final thing to say is thank you for the team at terptree to all of those who attended this event to make it a success and we very much look forward to announcing details of our next event for Communication Professionals later on in the year!
                                        terptree team photo

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Read more about Deafblind UK

Deafblind UK is a nationwide organisation that need your help. Discover more about them and how you can get involved by reading on...

Deafblind UK is a national voluntary organisation working to support people who are deafblind.

Formed in 1928, by a group of deaf and blind people, it is now a large charity which focuses on supporting people who have both a hearing and sight loss – who have very specific needs.


Their head office is based in Peterborough with a number of regional offices throughout the UK.  Deafblind UK builds up good relationships with funders as well as voluntary and community organisations.  They are active in developing partnerships and getting involved in social enterprise activities.  


Their emphasis is on giving practical solutions to the problems faced by deafblind people and aiming to support people in being more independent.

Mission Statement:

“Deafblind UK is a membership organisation which is governed by, people who are deafblind or have both a sight and hearing loss. We champion the rights and interests of all people who are deafblind or have a combined sight and hearing loss and deliver quality services to give these individuals autonomy and control over their lives. Through our work we support equality, independence and choice.”

Deafblind UK strives to educate deafblind people about their rights and help them to access what they are entitled to.  


What they plan to achieve:

They plan to extend their services to many more areas in UK and to enable people with sensory and visual loss to actively participate in mainstream activities.  DeafBlind UK are actively seeking more funds to train people to work with deafblind people all across the UK.


Volunteering with Deafblind UK:

Those people who want to volunteer the deafblind UK, will be given a full induction program plus excellent support and guidance to work towards the mission of the organisation.

To find out more – take a look at their website - http://deafblind.org.uk/

Monday, 31 March 2014

Communication Professional of the month - March 2014

We decided that there would be no better way to announce the winner of Communication Professional of the month for March that making an announcement at our event - so we did!

The individual that we chose this month regularly helps us out with last minute bookings and each member of our team has individually commented about how great they are to work with.

So our Communication Professional for the month in March 2014 is:

                                        Ben LeGrys

                                     Ben Legrys
So - the plan was to award Ben with his trophy at the event, but he was unfortunately unwell and unable to attend, so Ben - your trophy is winging its way to you!

Ben is consistently supportive and accommodating with bookings, being cancelled for one booking - he is looking to help us fill another one.  He is always polite and willing to help and communicates well with our team keeping us informed of what happens on the ground so that we can best support clients.

Well done Ben and we are now looking for another wonderful Communication Professional to award for April 2014!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

What does the British Deaf History Society do?

Who are the BDHS and what do they do? Read on to find out how to help the efforts of the British Deaf History Society and visit their museum filled with deaf artifacts throughout the ages.

The British Deaf History Society is a well-recognised voluntary and charitable organisation which was established in 1993 in Warrington.  At their site in Warrington, they have a small museum along with offices and a neatly arranged research library where people can visit to read about topics relating to deaf history.  New information is being added to this archive on a regular basis.

The objectives of the British Deaf History Society are encouraging the study of Deaf History, preserving materials and recording items of historical value related to Deaf History as well as producing a range of publications.


Their mission:

The main mission of BDHS is to actively encourage and increase the interest for discovering, safeguarding and restoring history relating to deaf people.  

The historical items that they have available serves in getting an insight into past deaf communities, their culture as well as the language used by them. 

BDHS’s activities include the publishing of Deaf History Journal four times a year, running conferences and seminars and the publication of a wide range of resources about deaf history.

The projects run by the British Deaf History Society are:
  •         Publishing and distribution of the Deaf History Journal amongst members four times a year
  • Conducting workshops on deaf history at least twice a year
  • Visits to other deaf history locations abroad
  • Publishing various books and journals on deaf history
  • Conducting regular campaigns with a mission of preserving resources
  • Support and funding of projects relating to deaf history 
  • Collaboration with educational institutions like schools, colleges and universities on the studies relating to deaf history
  • Compiling and updating catalogues on deaf history in their library and archives


Future plans of The British Deaf History Society:

The British Deaf History Society has recently launched their Warrington based museum and is now busy carrying out the mission for preservation of these important resources. 

Why become a member?

The British Deaf History Society is perfect for those who are interested in understanding the historical, social as well as the cultural background of deaf people.

With the library, archives and museum - it is also a great place for those who are looking to research specific areas such as Mental Health and Deafness, social services, the evolution of the deaf community and many more areas.

Help today at: http://www.bdhs.org.uk/


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Hearing Link - who are they?

Hearing Link is a UK organisation striving to help those suffering from hearing loss. Discover how you can involved by reading on... 

Hearing Link was formerly known as Hearing Concern LINK; it was formed in the year 2008 due to a merger between two giant national organisations, the Hearing Concern and the LINK centre for Deafened People.

The name was changed from Hearing concern LINK to Hearing Link in January 2011.



Hearing Link is a UK based organisation exclusively involved with people suffering from hearing loss and their families.  The organisation also conducts intensive training programs for people with hearing loss. These programs last for a period of five days and involve around eight people, providing participants with lots of useful information and an opportunity for them to answer all the questions they have.

Hearing Link’s Vision

Hearing Link provides an opportunity for people with hearing loss to gain skills and confidence.  It is an organisation that focuses on overcoming challenges, both practical and emotional and aid people in finding the specialist services that they need.  

Events at Hearing Link

Some of the latest courses they have planned in the coming months include:

A seminar in February giving advice about various hearing aids aimed at people with a hearing loss.

In March, April and May – there are a number of training sessions covering topics such as living an independent life, gaining confidence, self-management, etc.  These sessions are led by trainers who themselves have a hearing loss.

In March, there is a large even, which is the International Congress of Late and sudden deafened. Click here to find out more


How can the public actively participate in making the visions of the Hearing Link a success?

There are a number of ways to get involved, from taking part in the training on offer, tasking on a role as a Volunteer, donating or leaving a legacy.

The whole range of activities can be found on their website: 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

terptree's Communication Professional of the month - February 2014

Wow - it is already time to announce our Communication Professional of the month for February 2014!

What is terptree's Communication Professional of the month?

Here at terptree HQ, we call our clients for feedback after each and every booking. Our team regularly get off of the phone from a client, beaming with pride at the wonderful words clients’ have used to describe your hard work.

We wanted to find a way of recognising all that you do for us – hence our new award ‘Communication Professional of the month’.
Every month, our team will reward one of our Communication Professionals with this title for going the extra mile, excellent feedback and services to the Deaf community.

February 2014

As you know, here at terptree we work with the whole range of Communication Professionals – and this month, one particular Electronic Notetaker has been so flexible in the work that she has done in two Universities in the Midlands – we wanted to say a big terptree thank you!

So our Communication Professional of the month in February 2014 is:

Julie Price



Julie starting working with terptree last year and has been a pleasure dealing with from the very start.  On supporting two students with electronic notetaking, she has been extremely helpful and a delight to work with; both students commenting on how friendly and flexible she is to work with.

Her willingness to travel and support our students as much as she possibly can has really been noted by our team and we would like to thank Julie very much for all her hard work!

This is what Julie had to say “Many thanks for awarding me with Communication Professional of the month, that’s lovely news for a damp Friday morning and a very kind gesture, it’s made my day!”




Our March award will be made at the Communication Professionals event in London on 27 March 2014.