BSL Video & Text: Calderdale’s sign language resource

This information in sign language is about the sign language team/service at Calderdale Council, signed by Pauline Connolly. (a transcript of the video is available below it).


At the moment we have one interpreter: me! Working four days a week, Faith works three days per week: Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. We continue to work as a team.

An update about Covid and what happened to our service during this period. Pre Covid, Emma was part of our team working part time. We would share the responsibilities of mail reading support face to face at Horton Street.

We have continued to do this during Covid; interpreting and Mail reading services all related to council services required; council tax etc working with Customer First.

Covid happened and all buildings were closed. Horton street staff were assigned to work from home and we were given new equipment; Laptop, phone to continue the service. Deaf people continued to need support from our services via technology and we continued to meet their needs during those two years.

For example; a deaf service user would send a text message asking for what they required, we would face-time them if necessary and deliver the service that they required.

Even though there was no physical building, Customer First and the sign language service continued with the new ways of working, however, this new way of working was delivery at speed. This was because pre Covid the process to book an interpreter mail reading/Customer First appointment would have taken about 2 weeks. Now however, the deaf person sends a text message and requires Customer services and the service is immediate, usually in the day.

Examples of Customer services:

  • Council tax enquiry
  • Waste/recycling
  • Blue Badge application
  • Renewal of bus passes
  • Birth registration

Customer First and the sign language work very closely with each other and the service is brilliant, immediate. Deaf people actually get a bespoke top quality service. We also work with the Jubilee children’s centre, CAB and Gateway to Care

We establish what services a deaf person requires in Calderdale. Some organisations have contracts with other interpreting agencies, for example Job Centre Plus. We have seen that deaf people struggle to access interpreting services with other organisations such as these.

We communicate with deaf people mainly through WhatApp/FaceTime and some deaf we encourage to make their own bookings with other interpreting agencies.

We help deaf if they need urgent help with; boiler repairs or general urgent phone calls. The CCG – some GP’s are still offering online medical assessments and then face to face appointments in the surgery, we offer both. We also work with freelance interpreters to meet the needs of the community. We ask the interpreter to stay on after the appointment should the deaf person need to go to the pharmacy or they need a letter translating into English.

Horton Street Customer First new ways of working will be no face to face bookings in the building. However, as I explained previously we will continue to support deaf in new ways.

I must stress that if deaf people need more ‘in – depth’ support, it is not the responsibility/role of the sign language interpreter.

Most deaf people have been given DLA/PIP and this funding budget has been assessed for Communication. If further support is required then the deaf person may need a Personal Assistant (PA). Jason Vessey’s V-Recruitment has a team of PA’s and is a Leeds based service. He will go to your home and assess what your needs are.

Whether you are lonely, need a PA for chats and coffee or to go to the garden centre etc We (sign language services) are happy to provide Council services and will reply withing 24 hours of contact and assess what the needs are to eliminate the stress for deaf services users.

Thank you,