Language Service Professionals: Interpreters and Communication Support Workers (CSW)

A Language Service Professional (LSP) supports deaf people in different ways to enable communication between Deaf and Hearing people; it depends on what language and support the Deaf person prefers to use and what the event is for.

  • British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreters/ Sign Supported English (SSE) Interpreters / Registered Sign Language Interpreters / Trainee Interpreters / NVQ BSL Level 6 may be more suited to situations requiring a more demanding level of signing e.g. a Higher Education Lecture, formal meeting etc.
  • Communication Support Workers (CSW) are not usually qualified BSL/English interpreters, though more are now training at this level. CSW’s are qualified communication support workers for Deaf people and will have BSL skills Level 2-6. They provide language and communication support.
    For example, they:

    • help deaf people understand and produce written material in class/ at work
    • adapt the language of learning/ written materials to help a deaf person understand more easily
    • suggest improvements to the physical environment at college/work to make it easier for the person to lip-read or use hearing aids

When should I use an LSP?

Interpreters and Communication Support Workers usually work with deaf students in colleges of further education, universities and training centres. This includes students on work experience placements and in residential settings.

An LSP can also work with a deaf person in employment or anything outside of educational settings; for example, training, helping a deaf person fill in a form in English, interview support, bank meetings, council meetings or supporting someone in a one-to-one meeting with their manager etc.


When not to use an LSP?

If a deaf student needs other support at college, such as extra tutorials to discuss the English language content of their course, or to go over new ideas, then a Tutor of the Deaf (TOD) should do this work instead of, and in addition to, an LSP.

LSP’s should not be asked to act as a tutor. For example, they should not be asked to create handouts or information sheets for overhead projectors or to go through work outside class.

If a deaf person just needs access to information and not extra support, then they should be provided with support that matches their own need – be that an interpreter, a lipspeaker or a note taker.

How many LSP’s should I book?

The number of Language Service Professional (LSP) staff required will depend on:

  • The abilities/ levels of the LSP
  • The time of day and availability of LSP workers
  • The pace of the course/ session / meeting and how demanding it is – sometimes two Interpreters / CSWs will co-work if the booking is very demanding and/or over a long period of time
  • Teaching/ delivery style
  • The type of support the student needs. For example an LSP cannot sign and take notes at the same time so two LSP’s would be required.