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How to book an Interpreter

Top 10 Tips for booking a British Sign Language Interpreter

If you’re thinking about booking a sign language interpreter for the first time, or it’s something you do regularly, we’ve put together some top tips to help make your experience run even smoother.

1.  Date & time please!

This is the first thing we need to know. It’s surprising how many people get in touch without deciding exactly when they will need an interpreter. Of course, there will always be situations when it’s not always possible to know the exact date or time, such as an emergency or when the event is flexible dependent on when an interpreter will be available. In these situations, an agency should do its best to negotiate a time when both the client and interpreter will be available.

2.  Length of booking

It is important to know how long the booking is going to last. Interpreting is very intensive and tiring for the interpreter so 45 minutes is the recommended time to be actively interpreting. There are times when one interpreter could do a booking lasting an entire day on their own, as long as lots of breaks are provided; however, on some occasions two interpreters are needed for a booking lasting only an hour.

3. Location

To ensure there’s no confusion on the day, it is advisable to give the full venue address at the point of booking. The postcode is probably most important part of the information, plus any other relevant details.

4.  Essential information

Provide as much information about the context of the booking as possible. Getting the right interpreter for the job is essential to provide the best service for our clients. Our interpreters have a wide range of experience, training and skills meaning the needs of the deaf person can easily be matched to our in-house interpreters or extensive freelance database.

For instance, interpreting a theatre performance takes a lot of preparation and specialised training, so it’s important to get the right interpreter for the job. The same goes for very sensitive cases; some interpreters are more experienced or suited to the job.

5. Name required

The name of the deaf client is needed.
There are some clients who prefer certain interpreters or who have been working with one or two interpreters in particular, so it would be best to carry on with those for continuity. For confidentiality reasons, it’s not always possible to give the name over right away, but when the booking is all in place and confirmed and you know who your interpreter is, we need to have as much information as possible. If confidentiality is an issue, we can always give contact details to the interpreter so that they can get in touch directly.

6. Who is paying?

It is important to know who to invoice for the booking. There are some cases where funding needs to be in place in order to pay and knowing that the funding is there before calling is always helpful. Having an invoice address ready, and purchase order number if necessary, makes the process run a lot quicker and smoother.

7.  Access to Work

Access to Work is a service provided by the government to help with funding for anyone whose health or disability affects the way they do a job.

You may be able to get the funding to pay for a BSL interpreter for work related bookings. However, Access to Work has a special mileage rate, so we do need to know that it will be Access to Work funded at the point of booking so that there are no problems when it comes to invoicing.

8. Preparation is key

Preparation material is vital to the role of the interpreter, especially for lengthy or in-depth bookings. It is really important that any prep material is provided with plenty of notice.

9. Confirmation of booking

We always send confirmation to our customers so they know that they definitely have an interpreter booked and who it is. We need to know who to send this to at the point of booking, so there’s no confusion along the way.

10.  Cancellation – no problem!

There are times when an interpreter needs to be cancelled for whatever reason, if this happens, we need to be informed of this as soon as possible. Unfortunately, depending on when the booking is cancelled, they do incur a fee, so the sooner it’s done the better!

And there you have it, if ever you need to book a BSL interpreter, you’ll know exactly what to do! If you want to book an interpreter, contact our office on 01392 49 49 22 or or book through our website You can also follow us on Twitter: or Facebook:


We are the preferred supplier for the following service providers

  • Devon County Council
  • NHS Devon
  • Exeter City Council
  • Royal Devon and Exeter - NHS Foundation Trust
  • South Devon Healthcare - NHS Foundation Trust
  • Torbay NHS - Care Trust
  • Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education
  • Living Options

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