Search This Blog


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

What Is Ushers?

So you’re intrigued to know what Ushers is. No it’s not a typo, it’s not this famous singer:

Nor are we discussing Ushers who will direct you to your seat at a wedding ceremony:

No it is much more serious than that!

Ushers or Usher syndrome is a rare genetic disability that develops multiple symptoms. The major symptoms involve the individual losing hearing and an eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa. It is currently incurable.

Retinitis pigmentosa leaves the carrier of the disability with night-blindness and a loss of peripheral vision, which is due to the progressive degeneration of the retina. As retinitis pigmentosa further develops it will leave the individual with only the ability to see straight ahead. This also in turn leaves carriers of the disability to have problems with their balance.

Who Is Affected by Usher Syndrome?

-      An estimated 3,545 people from the UK have Usher syndrome
-      Approximately 3 - 6 % of all children who are deaf and another 3 - 6 % of all children who are hard-of-hearing have Usher syndrome
-       In developed countries an estimated 1  in every 25,000 children will experience Usher syndrome

What Causes Usher Syndrome?

Usher syndrome is genetically inherited, meaning a parent will pass it to their child genetically. With genes being present in almost every cell of the body and containing information that tell cells what to do, a break in this pattern can damage that area of the body. Every person will inherit two copies of each gene, one from the father and one from the mother. Sometimes genes can become altered or mutated. This can cause cells to act differently than expected.

Usher syndrome is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. The word autosomal means that the mutated gene is not located on either of the chromosomes that determine a person’s sex; in other words, both males and females can have the disability and can pass it along to a child.

The word recessive means that, to have Usher syndrome, a person must receive a mutated form of the Usher syndrome gene from each parent. If a child has a mutation in one Usher syndrome gene but the other gene is normal, he or she is predicted to have full sight and hearing. People with a mutation in a gene that can cause an autosomal recessive condition are called carriers, because they ‘carry’ the gene with a mutation, but they do not display the symptoms of the disability. If both parents are carriers of a mutated gene for Usher syndrome, they will have a 25% chance of having a child with Usher syndrome with each birth.

To Put This In Visual Terms

Usually, parents who have full use of their hearing and vision do not know if they are carriers of an Usher syndrome gene mutation. Currently, it is not possible to determine whether a person who does not have a family history of Usher syndrome is a carrier.

There Are 3 Types Of Usher Syndrome What Are They?

Type 1

The most severe case of Usher syndrome. Children born with type 1 are profoundly deaf upon birth and will also experience severe balance problems. The use of a hearing aid provides little to no use for these children. Because of the balance problems that will occur, children with this type of Usher syndrome will be slow to sit without support and are unlikely to walk on their own before they are 18 months.

These children will usually develop vision problems in early childhood, almost always before the age of 10. These vision problems will often begin with difficulty seeing at night and then deteriorate quickly until the person is completely blind.

If a child is diagnosed with type 1 Usher syndrome early on, before he or she loses the ability to see, that child is more likely to benefit from the full spectrum of intervention strategies that can help him or her participate more fully in life’s activities.

Type 2

Children born with type 2 Usher syndrome will have moderate to severe hearing loss and normal balance. Although the severity of hearing loss varies between child, most of these children will gain benefit from hearing aids and will be able to communicate orally. Type 2 tends to progress slower than type 1, with the full affects often not apparent until their teenage years.

Type 3

Type 3 Usher syndrome sees children born with their full hearing and near-normal balance, some may develop balance issues later on in life. Their hearing and sight will worsen over time but the rate at which they decline varies between people, even within the same family. Hearing loss may develop by the teens and he or she will usually require haring aids by mid-to-late adulthood. The lose of vision at night typically occurs around puberty, with blind spots appearing by the late teens to early adulthood. By mid-adulthood the person will likely be classified as legally blind.

How Is Usher Syndrome Diagnosed?

Due to the hearing, balance and vision being affected by Usher syndrome evaluation of all three senses is conducted to diagnose Usher syndrome. Evaluation of the eyes can include a visual field test to measure a person’s peripheral vision, an electroretinogram (ERG) to measure the electrical response of the eye’s light-sensitive cells, and a retinal examination to observe the retina and other structures in the back of the eye.
An audiological (hearing) evaluation measures how loud sounds need to be before a person can hear them. To help diagnose an imbalance, an electronystagmogram (ENG) test measures involuntary eye movements that could signify a balance problem.

Gaining an early diagnosis of Usher syndrome is very important. The earlier that parents know if their child has Usher syndrome, the sooner that child can begin special educational training programs to manage the loss of hearing and vision.

If you’d like to read a story about someone living with Usher syndrome, check out the inspirational Molly Watt here >>

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

What Is World Federation Of The Deaf (WFD) And What Do They Do?

The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) was formed 65 years ago in 1951, making it one of the oldest international organisations of people with disabilities in the world. With their focus on protecting and helping deaf people all around the world that communicate via British Sign Language (BSL) and Sign Languages around the world whilst also offering help and advice to friends and family.

WFD is a non-governmental organization that operates internationally, aiming  to promote the Human Rights of Deaf people worldwide. They work closely with the United Nations and various UN agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO). WFD provides expert advice on deaf issues and matters in its relationships with other international organisations.

As of the publishing of this post, there are currently 11 board members who are all deaf. The headquarters of the organization is located in Helsinki, Finland.

The aims and objectives of the World Federation of the Deaf are to:

-       Promote and help raise the establishment of Deaf organisations in countries and principalities where there currently isn’t any
-      Provide better education for Deaf people all around the world
-      Improve the status of national Sign Languages
-      Provide better access to information and services for Deaf people
-      Improve the human rights of Deaf people in developing countries and ensure they get the help they’re entitled to

The WFD claims it represents a staggering 70 million deaf people across the entire world! (Possibly even more impressive is that more than 80% of these people live in developing countries) The WFD really are doing their bit for deaf people all over the world and their members continue to grow.

The countries with deaf associations since the World Federation of the Deaf was born has risen massively and the WFD has members ranging from Afghanistan (Afghanistan National Association of the Deaf) – Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe National Association of the Deaf (ZIMNAD)).

With many more in between, such as:

-       Algeria (Fédération Nationale des Sourds d’Algérie (FNSA))

-       Benin (Association Nationale des Sourds du Benin)

-      Lebanon (Association de L'Oeuvre des Sourds-Muets au Liban

-      Syria (Syrian Federation of Societies for the Welfare of the Deaf)

-       United Kingdom (British Deaf Association (BDA)

-       United States of America (National Association of the Deaf NAD)

      And many, many more! Infact well over 1/2 the world now has a deaf association thanks to the World Federation of the deaf!

     There is a World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf once every four years since its creation. The event will be organised by both the WFD and the varying host country and is attended by thousands of Deaf people from all over the world. The General Assembly (which is the highest decision making body within the WFD) and forming the guidelines for the next four years will be conducted at the quarterly event.

     But it isn’t all work, work, work. You still need to have fun and relax and this is why the congress hold a large cultural programme which include:

-          Theatre Performances
-          A Cinema
-          Exhibitions
-          Performing Arts
-          Sightseeing and visiting local places of interest in the host city

     The very first congress meeting took place in Rome, Italy and has since seen it visit 5 continents. With the latest meeting taking place in Istanbul, Turkey with them ‘Strengthening Human Diversity’.

The Danish Deaf Association (DDL) recently received funding from the Disabled People’s Organisation Denmark (DPOD) to carry out a phase 1 project which commenced on the 1st February 2016 for one year.

The purpose of the project is to strengthen the organisational capacity of the World Federation of the Dear (WFD) Ordinary Members in Mali (AMASOURDS), Niger (ASN), Togo (AST), Cote d’Ivoire (ANASOCI), and the WFD Regional Secretariat for Western and Central Africa (WCARS). The project is expected to grateful improve the lives of the deaf in the African continent as well as educating deaf people on their rights. 

WFD work in partnership with World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI) to create a conjoined agree standard ‘International Sign Interpreter Recognition Interim Policy and Guidelines’. Referred to as WFD-WASLI Accredited International Sign Interpreter, the Certificate of Accreditation is valid for five (5) years from 1 January 2016 till 31 December 2020.

The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) took the initiative and created International Week of the Deaf, celebrated globally by the deaf community. The International Week of the Deaf is held on the last week of September, the same month first World Congress of the WFD was held.

International Week of the Deaf is commemorated through various activities (marches, debates, campaigns, exhibitions and meetings), and call for the participation and involvement of stakeholders (families, peers, governmental bodies, professional sign language interpreters, Disabled People’s Organisations).

International Week of the Deaf is the only week in a year that sees highly concerted global advocacy to raise awareness about the deaf community at individual, community and governmental level. It is about gathering together, becoming united, and showing that unity to the rest of the world.

WFD truly have and still are making a huge difference to the deaf community around the entire world. Creating and promoting a better world where the deaf are included and gain the support they deserve.

Will you be doing anything for International Week of the Deaf? If so let us know. If you wish to learn more about the great work WFD do, visit their official site here -

EUD (European Union Of Deaf People)

On the same lines of the World Federation of the Deaf, we have the European Union of Deaf People. Based in Brussels, Belgium, EUD represents all of the 28 EU member states deaf people. In addition they also represent:

-          Iceland
-          Norway
-          Switzerland

EUD is a regional co-operating member of the World Federation of the Deaf to help tackle issues of global importance for the deaf community and also have a participatory status with Council of Europe (CoE). EUD’s vision is to ensure that Deaf people all over Europe have the same rights and help in both public and private aspects of their lives.

They want the recognition of the right to use an indigenous Sign Language, empowerment through communication and information, as well as equality in education and to empower Deaf people.

Their official site is -

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

What is WASLI?

In this post we will go through exactly what WASLI is, what they stand for and much more information about them! We hope you find it informative, useful and most of all, you enjoy the post J

WASLI stands for World Association Of Sign Language Interpreters and their mission is to develop the profession of Sign Language around the world. During the 14th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf in Montreal Canada, on 23rd July 2003 WASLI was formed.

60 interpreters representing 20 nations together with WFD General Secretary Carol lee Aquiline saw the establishment of WASLI. The representative from South Africa agreed to host the first WASLI Conference in 2005. Upon their creation, WASLI were determined to get as many interpreters and interpreter associations throughout the world as possible. The WASLI office is located in Australia.

A sponsorship programme was created to help raise money to assist those from poorer nations to be able to visit the first ever WASLI Conference in South Africa. This monumental event held over 220 delegates from over 40 countries.

Their website provides a summary of information in a variety of languages, including:

-          Portuguese
-          Arabic 
-          French
-          Russian
-          Kiswahili (Swahili)

And more! As well as advancing the profession of Sign Language interpreting worldwide, they will also:

·        Encourage the existent and development of national associations of Sign Language in countries that do not currently have them and maintaining their establishment

·         Support existing nations with pre-existing associations of Sign Language interpreters

·        Support Sign Language interpreters working at international events such as sporting events and conferences

·        Liaise and workout solutions with spoken language interpreter organisations and other organisations with similar interests

·        Encourage research to further develop Sign Language interpreting around the world

·        Work in partnership with Deaf and Deafblind associations on Sign Language interpreting issues.

WASLI work in partnership with:

-          World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) 

-          World Federation of the Deafblind (WFDB)

-          Association interntionale des interprètes  de conférence (AIIC)

To help them on their mission to develop the profession of Sign Language around the world, as well as aiding these organisations in their own missions to help their respective area of the deaf community.

WASLI have regional representatives who have all experienced success:

North America - Mexico hosted the First Regional Conference of North American Sign Language Interpreters during July 2014.

Asia - Hosted the WASLI Board meeting and held a very large regional meeting of interpreters during the WFD R/S conference in Macau during August 2014.

Africa – Conducted their regional representative election process with international observers helping to oversee the process.

Balkans – Continues to provide training for sign language interpreters.

Transcaucasia – Hosted a regional conference in Kiev in 2012.

Australasia/Oceania - Hosted regional meetings during the ASLIA conferences and provided training for Fiji interpreters.

Latin America – Collaborated with FEBRAPILS to host the second Latin American Conference of Interpreters and Translators in Brazil in 2013; ten interpreter associations were formed and joined WASLI.

All of these representatives are contactable and donations can be made to the organisation (WASLI) via PayPal -

WASLI approaches its work with great integrity. A key component to WASLI’s work is its professionalism, its commitment to lifelong learning, and to set and follow standards in their interactions. WASLI ensures it is accountable to its members for its decisions.

We here at terptree hope you have found this information useful it’s given you an insight as to how Sign Language interpreters connect together around the world. The deaf community is made up of many different people, interpreters included. So it’s great to showcase the work that is happening to really change the world for deaf people.

Be sure to check back to see what other insightful posts we publish. If you wish to check out WASLI yourself, visit their official site here -

Thursday, 31 March 2016

What Is EFSLI?

EFSLI stands for European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters which consists of 31 national and regional associations and just fewer than 300 individual and associate members. Their mission is to improve the profession of Sign Language interpreting throughout Europe to the highest level possible. Therefore, every year following the Annual General Meeting (AGM) an EFSLI seminar or conference is held that allows participants and guests from all over Europe to join the discussion and come together to improve the Sign Language profession, year by year.

Their aims and objectives that will help them to achieve their vision are:

- To encourage and promote deliberation and mutual exchange of the profession of interpreting    services within Europe
- To work to secure official recognition of the profession of Sign Language interpreting
- To encourage and promote scientific and pedagogic initiatives to improve standards of Sign Language interpreting and Interpreter training
- To provide advice and support to Sign Language Interpreters, Interpreter trainees, Interpreter trainers, and users and providers of Interpreting services
- To present the interests of the profession of Sign Language interpreting to appropriate bodies

Back in 1987 there was a conference held in Albi France that examined Sign Language interpreting in relation the European region and culture. This was organised under the auspices of the French Association of the Deaf in conjunction with the European Community Regional Secretariat of the World Federation of the Deaf (known today as European Union of the Deaf).
This was the first time interpreters had the opportunity to met and formally examine the issues that were most important to them.

After years of work and organising, the very first seminar for EFSLI was held in 1994 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the Annual General Meeting (AGM) followed shortly after. The theme of the first seminar was ‘Working Conditions’. The next event is in 2016 9th – 11th September in Athens, Greece.

ESLI’s members (national organisations of Sign Language interpreters) – NASLIs include the likes of:

·         Austria (ÖGSDV)
·         Czech Republic (CKTZJ)
·         England/Wales/Northern Ireland (ASLI)
·         Estonia (EVKTÜ)
·         Ireland (CISLI)
·         Norway (Tolkeforbundet)
·         Scotland (SASLI)
·         Sweden (STTF)

And many more! They are also in communication with:

·         Bulgaria
·         Cyprus
·         Latvia
·         Lithuania
·         Malta (AILSM)
·         Montenegro
·         Serbia

EFSLI are constantly looking to grow their number of member associations and improve the Sign Language profession throughout Europe.

EFSLI also have a variety of contacts and contact details for those looking to acquire a Sign Language interpreter in the countries where EFSLI has members.

They have also received an increasing number of requests for International Sign (IS) interpreters. So at the EFSLI AGM in 2009 in Estonia, members invited International Sign interpreters living in Europe to provide their details so they could be contacted. There is no formal education, registration or accreditation of International Sign interpreters. The list of IS interpreters provided by EFSLI, define themselves as qualified International Sign Interpreters.

To find the list of International Sign interpreters listed by EFSLI, visit their page here -

Special Attendance Fund – (SAF)

As mentioned earlier, once a year Sign Language Interpreters from all over Europe gather at the EFSLI AGM and Conference to share knowledge, gain expertise and share valuable experiences.
However as there are many countries with low GDP (which is typically used to determine the economic performance of a whole country or region, and to make international comparisons.) EFSLI setup the EFSLI Special Attendance Fund (SAF) in 2004.

SAF provides financial support primarily to interpreters from European countries with a GDP of €15.000 or lower. Interpreters from other European countries are also welcome to apply for a funding.
The Special Attendance Fund depends entirely  on donations.

The EFSLI SAF committee consists of seven interpreters from:

-          The Netherlands
-          Germany
-          Greece
-          Great Britain

They are always looking for new members. If you would like to join their committee or donate to the SAF via PayPal, you can do so here - 

EFSLI Research Fund – ERF

EFSLI setup the EFSLI Research Fund, this was to provide funds to individuals who would like to undertake research in a topic related to Sign Language interpreting who do not have the necessary funding to complete the research on their own. If you’d like to donate to this fund, you can do so here - via PayPal.

EFSLI also work in partnership with:

-          AIIC (The only worldwide association for conference interpreters)
-          EUD (A European non-profit making organisation whose membership comprises National Associations of Deaf people in Europe)
-          EULITA (Open to associations of legal translators and interpreters in the EU, as well as to general associations and individuals)
-          WASLI (The World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI) is an international non-profit organisation that works towards enhancing the profession of Sign Language interpreting worldwide)

We here at terptree hope you have found this information useful and insightful. If would like to learn more about EFSLI you can visit their website here -

Have a great day and until next time! J

Thursday, 24 March 2016

What Do Signature Do?

As with every community, the deaf community have to get to grips with understanding the variety of organisations and associations is no small feat.

So this post is aimed at telling you exactly what Signature are and how they affect you, as well as the services you receive.

Signature is the leading awarding body for qualifications in British & Irish Sign Language, deafblind communication and other deaf communication methods. They are the equivalent of Edexcel for GCSEs.

They also advise the government and many businesses on how they can improve their services and campaign to allow for better access for the deaf community. They are an organisation that are passionate about ensuring deaf and deafblind people have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else, the same access to work opportunities, education and general public services.

Signature safeguards the interests of those who rely on communication professionals such as BSL interpreters or lipspeakers and ensure they are fully qualified and registered with NRCPD (see our previous blog).

Signature has been running for over 3 decades and has built up strong values of integrity, commitment, quality and respect. Over 370,000 people have been through their qualifications. All of their qualifications are nationally recognised and accredited by Ofqual (The Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator).

Signature ensures that all of their staff are trained in BSL and Deaf Awareness, which enables communication to flow freely between colleagues and visitors.

They have also campaigned for the development of BSL for secondary education since 2010, with the aim of the introduction of BSL to the national curriculum. Signature have been successful in getting the opportunity to pilot a BSL qualification in 6 schools, which are:

-          St Clere’s School, Essex
-          Oak Lodge School, London
-          Darrick Wood Secondary School, Kent
-          Blackburn College, Blackburn
-          Sanders School, Essex
-          Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School, Kent

The pilot programme started in September 2015. Following the pilot, the organisation is aiming to make the qualification available to all schools. They are seeking recognition to award it as a GCSE qualification and hope in the future that children will be able to leave school with a GCSE in BSL.

Signature also offer training for some forms of communication professionals who do not have a gateway into registering with NRCPD, such as:

-      Training that meets NRCPD registration requirements for Notetakers (This training is open to Notetakers who already hold a Level 2 Certificate in Notetaking, and who are NOT registered as a Notetaker with NRCDP. Individuals will be required to produce their Level 2 certificate before being accepted onto the programme.)
-      Speech To Text Reporter (STTR) training (This training is open to STTRs, who are already registered with BIVR and who can demonstrate speed of 180wpm. Individuals will be required to produce Certificate of speed/membership of BIVR before being accepted onto the programme.) – Signature is currently working on this training meeting NRCDP registration requirements.

To find out more about Signature go to their website here:

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

What Do NRCPD Do?

So I mentioned this organisation few times in the previous post but what exactly is NRCPD?

What Do They Do?

NRCPD exists to protect those who need or book support by holding a register of communication and language professionals who work with deaf and deafblind people. They do this by ensuring that those who register are fully qualified and meet the full criteria.

The benefit of using a communication professional who is registered is:

-          They have attained a high level or training and qualifications
-          They are abiding by a Code of Conduct
-          They have Professional Indemnity Insurance cover – 
       which allows deaf and hearing people to feel safe should they need to bring about a complaint or 
-          A complaints procedure that if upheld could lead to a suspension or 
       removal from the Register
-          An enhanced DBS clearance
-          The need to undergo Continual Professional Development (CPD)

NRCPD hold Registers of:

-              Interpreters for Deafblind people
-              Noteakers (Manual and Electronic)
-              Lipspeakers
-              Sign Language Interpreters (Trainee Sign Language Interpreters 
               (TSLIs) + Registered Sign 
               Language Interpreters (RSLIs)
-              Sign Language Translators
-              Speech To Text Reporters (STTR)

In 2009 Signature created NRCPD to allow for the registration of communication and language professionals. NRCPD is governed by a board which sets policy, spending priorities and strategic direction. The Board derives its authority from the Signature Board of Trustees.

NRCPD publish the information about their:

-              Internal/External Meetings
-              Key correspondence With Other Organisations/Individuals

As they believe it is important to have access to information and is displaying a good precedent.

What Do Communication Professionals Do?

Registrants and regulated Trainers have standards they must meet. As well as the right training, Registrants and regulated Trainers have to abide by NRCPD’s Code of Conduct. With it stating that all Registrants and regulated Trainees must have up-to-date knowledge of practice theory and its application.

The Code of Conduct implemented by NRCPD indicates the desired behaviours that should be abided by and gives organisations and individuals the opportunity to make a complaint if they believe a Communication Professional is not acting in an appropriate manner. This gives NRCPD credibility and shows the importance of registration. 

You can see here the card that Registrants hold. Deaf people should always ask to see the NRCPD card before working with the Interpreter or Communication Professional to check they are working with someone who is registered. To check whether a Communication Professional is registered with NRCPD, click here -

Continual Professional Development (CPD)

Registrants must continue their professional development, which ensures that they are of the highest level and credibility. The current requirement is 24 hours per year and at least 12 of those hours must be structured activity.

Structured activities are usually easy to identify. They are organised by associations, employers, training providers or other organisations, and they have stated learning outcomes.

Unstructured activity is anything without a stated learning outcome that helps you achieve your CPD objectives and develop your professional practice.

There are also ethical principles put in place to further install the notion of good when operating under NRCPD. The Code of Conduct is as follows:

1.            You must act in the best interests of the people and organisations
               that use your services

2.            You must treat information as confidential

3.            You must work within the limits of your training, skills and

4.            You must maintain and develop your practice in line with the recognised standards of 
               your profession

5.            You must not allow your health to interfere with your work

6.            You must behave with professionalism and integrity

7.            You must provide important information about conduct and 

NRCPD have a number of professional standard advisors with expertise, experience and status in:

-              The professions they regulate
-              The training, assessment, use and employment of communication and language professionals 
                working with deaf and deafblind people.

They help to ensure NRCPD’s policies and procedures are upheld by providing them with advice and other support, such as:

•              Improving NRCPD’s registration system
•              Managing a complaint
•              Apply and promote NRCPD’s Code of Conduct
•              Monitor approved programmes
•              Confirm applications to join the Register
•              Oversee approved course applications

NRCPD approve courses that meet agreed professional standards. Only people who have successfully completed an approved course can join a Register.

Before they approve a course, they assess its content to ensure it meets agreed professional standards and to make sure graduates are appropriately trained. A list of approved courses for the various communication professionals can be found here

You may register online at any time. To register you will need to:

-              Have successfully completed an approved course
-              Have an enhanced disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service that is less than 3 years 
               old or be subscribed to the DBS update service
-              Have valid professional indemnity insurance
-              Pay a fee (The various fees can be found here 

To find out more about NRCPD visit their website here

We hope you have found this post informative and beneficial to you. Have a great day!