The language of sensory loss
Published: 09 Feb 2018
I try to get up around 7am so that I can take my time getting ready in the morning. I often walk to work if I can as it only takes me 20 minutes, but I often need my car for an appointment later in the day which means I have to drive – not a bad thing if it’s freezing.
I always double and triple check the calendar on my phone in the morning as things can change every day. I work mainly in Aberdeen but I also travel to Dundee and Elgin on a regular basis, so my day can completely change depending on what and where I have been booked for.
Most of my work is in the social work or medical fields. NESS employs specialist social workers for people with sensory loss, who don’t usually need a BSL interpreter to communicate with deaf service users, but I can be asked to interpret in some social work meetings, especially if the topic is complex. BSL is the first language of many deaf people in the UK, with tens of thousands of people using it to communicate.
BSL is a unique language, which has a combination of hand gestures, facial expressions and body language. Interestingly, just like a spoken language, there are local accents and colloquialisms. I often help deaf people at medical appointments – attending GPs, dentists and hospital wards all over the north-east.
I am very aware that I am often present during private moments in deaf people’s lives in these environments and I try to keep that in mind whenever I am there.
If I am travelling then lunch is often on the go – usually at an unhealthy fast food restaurant. However, this year I am trying to bring in lunch to work every day.
NESS offers a BSL service, so businesses and organisations can hire us to interpret to help communicate with deaf people. We do a lot of work for educational establishments, including universities, and in April 2017 I enjoyed interpreting for a walking tour at the Nuart Festival in Aberdeen.
When I am not doing interpreting, you can find me either driving between appointments or at the office. There is a deaf staff member at the office and I will sometimes interpret between her and other staff members. However, most of the time everyone manages to communicate without an interpreter, as most of the staff know some BSL. I have been working at NESS as a BSL interpreter since September 2016 and it is my first full-time job.
I studied interpreting and translation for French and BSL at university so my degree prepared me for many aspects of the job. Meeting lots of new people and building up a rapport with deaf people that I see frequently.
Getting a glimpse into so many different environments from business to education to medical situations. Working with a wide variety of professionals in other fields and seeing what their work is like. Travelling around the north-east and going to places where I usually wouldn’t have gone. Coming to the end of an appointment and leaving both the deaf and hearing people happy that they were able to communicate with each other and get things done thanks to my work.