A platform co-op set up for deaf people and sign language interpreters is nearing the end of its stretch funding drive today.
Signalise wants “to revolutionise the booking of British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters by creating an online system designed entirely by its users”.
It says: “As a co-operative, our communities – deaf people and interpreters – are our members and any profit we make will be reinvested into our local communities.
“Through many years of professional, real-world experience, we’ve reached a collective conclusion: the current system of booking BSL interpreters does not work. It doesn’t work for deaf people, for interpreters or for the services that use them. And rather than wait for gradual change that might never happen, we want to change things now.”
The co-op says that over the past 20 years, local, specialist services have been replaced by large spoken language agencies who don’t understand the needs of the deaf community or interpreters.
As a result, smaller agencies can no longer compete to win large government framework contracts – and Signalise says standards of access are falling.
“The deaf community is no longer confident that interpreters have been successfully booked and interpreters are seeing their working conditions worsen and pay reduced.”
The platform co-op was set up as a solution to this.
“By designing an online booking system together, we can make sure that we are able to meet the needs of all our communities. We want deaf people to have choice and control over the interpreters they use.
“And we want interpreters to have the information they need to be able to provide a good service. We also want to make the system as quick and easy to use as possible for the services that use it.”
The platform co-op will be automated and run online to keep costs down, allowing fairer pay for interpreters and keeping admin fees to a reasonable level. Signalise says any profit will pay for additional training and support for interpreters (where possible provided by deaf businesses) and to increase revenue by selling training services.
The stretch funding will pay for:
- extra web developers to work on the booking platform
- extra software to allow for better community participation
- promotional costs.