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Lack of a legal obligation to provide qualified sign language interpreters is putting the lives of deaf and hard of hearing people at risk, national charity, Signature has warned.

The problem is most worrying and dangerous in the public service sector because of an increased risk of miscommunication in critical and often life- threatening situations. Under the current law, hospitals, doctors, police and other important public service providers are not legally obliged

to choose qualified interpreters, enabling them to opt for cheaper, unregulated interpreters.

Now, Signature is calling for the government to make qualified, regulated interpreters a legal obligation, arguing that a failure to finance, or make sufficient attempts to obtain, a qualified interpreter is unacceptable and potentially fatal for deaf people.

Paul Parsons, Director of Communications at Signature, said: “Signature has come across repeated instances where deaf people

have been denied access to qualified interpreters. Potentially, this can lead to misdiagnosis and incorrect treatment in hospitals and doctors surgeries, misunderstandings and even wrongful arrests in the police force.

“While we acknowledge that the chronic shortage of registered British Sign Language interpreters is a problem, this weakness in the law is contributing to it further rather than addressing it.”

Signature urges public service providers to


Brake, the road safety charity, has published two new reports for fleet managers on managing young driver risk. The survey report and best practice guidance have been produced as part of Brake's campaign to help organisations save lives, money and the environment by improving fleet safety.

Traffic fatalities are the most common cause of death for 15 to 24 year-olds worldwide. As at-work drivers of any age are up to 26% more likely to crash than other drivers, it is vital for fleet managers to take action to manage this high- risk group.

The guidance includes expert advice delivered last year at a Brake seminar on ‘young drivers at work'. It is published alongside the first of four reports on a


recent Brake survey of fleet managers, sponsored by Licence Bureau; part one focuses on how young at- work drivers are managed. Both reports provide insight into the risks posed by employing novice drivers and advice on how to minimise those risks to maximise the safety of the whole fleet.

These publications are especially pertinent in light of the UK government's planned green paper on improving the safety of and reducing risks to young drivers, and Brake's recently-published survey results showing widespread public support for elements of graduated driver licensing (GDL). As

referenced in the guidance, elements of GDL can be adopted by fleet managers to improve the safety of young drivers.

The reports are available for free to Fleet Safety Forum subscribers, or can be purchased as a ‘young drivers at work' pack for £7.50 by non-subscribers.

eliminate the risk and safeguard people who rely on interpreters by using those who are ‘Sign Safe’, registered with the National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind people (NRCPD).

According to the 2011 census, there are 15,000 British Sign Language (BSL) users but there are only 750 registered BSL interpreters. Sign language interpreters interested in registering with NRCPD should visit

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