terptree: I have heard of a Communication Support Worker or 'CSW', but what is it

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Monday, 5 December 2011

I have heard of a Communication Support Worker or 'CSW', but what is it

There are many different roles that play a part in the life of a deaf person, one of these roles is a Communication Support (CSW) - here we explain what a CSW does and when booking an Interpreter would be more suitable.
CSWs mainly work within the education sector supporting deaf learners to communicate with their teachers and other students. CSWs are multi-skilled and flexible, using a variety of methods to suit each individual, whether it’s interpreting between spoken English and BSL, notetaking and/or lipspeaking. They work as part of the education team alongside the teacher and other professionals.
Typical duties of a CSW may include
- Applying appropriate communication methods, suitable to the needs and preferences of the student, to enable access to information and to facilitate two way communication.
- Helping students understand and produce written material in class, reinforcing course content where appropriate.
- Adapting learning materials to make language clearer for students.
- Suggesting ways that the learning environment can be improved to make it easier for students to communicate.
- Offering brief deaf awareness training to the teacher and other learners to facilitate the inclusion of the deaf student and ensure specific needs are met.
Qualified CSWs will hold Level 2 BSL at a minimum. If the student uses BSL or Signed English, you should use a CSW who has a minimum of CACDP Level 3 NVQ in BSL or Level 3 Certificate in BSL; ideally they should also be working towards Signature Level 6 NVQ Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting.

When not to use a CSW
Do not ask a CSW to act as a tutor, create handouts/information sheets or to discuss course content and projects outside of class.
If you are looking to use a CSW outside of the education sector, please bear in mind that they are not qualified interpreters. Qualified BSL/English Interpreters are highly skilled and experienced in BSL translation throughout a variety of settings such as Health, Employment, Training, Legal, Financial, Theatre, etc. In these circumstances a CSW may be unable to cope with the setting, speed or type of terminology being used. This may result in communication being inaccurately conveyed.

Tips for working with a CSW
- In some situations CSWs may support students at break times with social communication, but it is important to remember that CSWs need regular breaks and should not be expected to work through breaks unless this is pre-arranged.
- Send the CSW advance copies of any teaching materials in order for them to thoroughly prepare.
- If you are talking to a student who is deaf, do it in your usual way – do not direct your question/comment to the CSW.
- The CSW may ask you for clarification if they do not understand or, occasionally, if they cannot keep up with you.
- The student may benefit if the same CSW is employed on a regular basis to enable consistency.
If you would like to book a CSW or another communication professional
you are a Communication Support worker who would like to register with terptree

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