British Sign Language

Language can form a very real barrier between different communities. Without English, trying to access essential or other services can be a daunting exercise.

The Translating & Interpreting Service (TIS) is a confidential translation and interpreting service that can help bridge the communication gap between you and your clients.

We cater for a range of agencies, among them community health and local authority centres, as well as voluntary and other community groups. This brief guide below explains what you can expect from us and what you should do to ensure our interpreters can work effectively.

Guidelines for Service Provider Users

Booking a BSL interpreter

You can call to make a booking during normal office hours (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday). Our bookings are usually made ONLINE using our Web-Booking system or you can click on Book Online at any time. Alternatively, you can call us on 020 8591 0050 or an email at

Please give us as much notice as possible. The more notice you can give, the easier it is for us to arrange a BSL interpreter for the date you require. All sessions should be booked for between 7am and 8pm (including weekends) and these need to be booked through the TIS office during the weekday opening hours and not with individual BSL interpreters.

When booking please ensure the provided details are correct; the clients initials/ID reference, the time, language/dialect and venue/meeting place address (including postcode) before contacting us. You will be advised of the booking reference number by the person you contact at the interpreting service.

Some guidance on languages and culture

Before booking a BSL interpreter, you should ascertain your client knows BSL and clearly mark this on their record or relevant documents. Interviewing through a BSL interpreter is not always a straightforward process.

Briefing the interpreter

The BSL interpreter will aim to help your client get the best possible service, while helping you operate professionally and effectively.

The BSL interpreter will rely on you to be patient and to provide a thorough brief. The brief should include any appropriate background information, as well as explanations of all the technical terms that may arise. However, where possible, you should try to use simple language and avoid jargon or specialist terminology. Circumstances permitting, a debriefing after the session is advisable.

During a session

As the person who booked the session, you control proceedings, but it is important to note that BSL interpretation of your words may not be a straight forward process.

Even short and simple sentences can take longer in sign language. Try to speak directly to your client and ensure that you are sitting facing both the BSL signer and your client.

Also, try to use the BSL interpreter's knowledge or background and culture to create a rapport with your client. Good working relations can help overcome communication problems.

Your feedback

We aim to provide the best services, but we are always looking to make improvements. That is why we want your feedback, positive or critical.

Comments about the service in general or about an individual interpreter should be made in writing to the Service Director, 4 Farr Avenue, Barking, Essex IG11 ONZ.

Payment and contact details

The Interpreting Service pays it's BSL interpreters directly. Please sign the BSL interpreter's timesheet or pay claim at the end of the session to confirm their attendance.

Get a quote for your British Sign Language signer by emailing us at or call us on 020 8591 0050

Dialect Information

BSL is the standard provision in the United Kingdom.

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Friday, 24th December 2021 from 12:30pm - 5pm,

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Some people who speak English may not understand how important it is for me and my family to have someone who can speak on our behalf for all the problems and the traumas we have gone though. I am very grateful to the Translating & Interpreting Service for all the help they give me.

Turkish speaking client

My wife and I live alone and do not speak English, which makes it very difficult to access some of the services available. Whenever I have any concerns or problems I go to TIS Offices where help is always available.

Albanian speaking client

I am so happy to know that every time I go to see my GP, dentist or attend my hospital appointments I am able to show them the TIS Language Identification Card which helps to get an interpreter for me.

Polish speaking client

Get a quote for your British Sign Language signer by emailing us at or call us on 020 8591 0050

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