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August 6, 2004

Rape victim's silent ordeal

From: ic, UK - Aug 6, 2004

By Jane Tyler, Evening Mail

A deaf woman who was raped was unable to be interviewed about her ordeal for over a week because of a chronic shortage of interpreters.

The shocking incident is one of the worst examples of the problem affecting around 140,000 people in the city who are either deaf or hard of hearing and need the services of a qualified British Sign Language interpreter.

But the Birmingham Institute for the Deaf in Ladywood has just six full-time and one part-time interpreters, while there are fewer than 10 working freelance.

It is a lucrative profession with the BID paying an annual salary of between £18,000 and £25,000, or freelances able to earn £200 per day.

But Jo-Ann Moyles, operations director for the BID, said there were so few practising because it was a hard language to learn. There are four levels to gaining a BSL qualification - levels one and two enable the student to have a basic conversation with a deaf person, and three and four qualify them to work professionally.

"There's a massive shortage of people who are qualified to interpreting level," she said. "If a deaf person can't have the services of an interpreter then life's made very difficult for them.

"They are needed in everyday situations such as going shopping, seeing their GP and dealing with the council's housing department.

"We have plenty of students passing at levels one and two, a reasonable pass rate for level three but the take-up for level four is very poor."

The BID is starting a new batch of courses in levels one to three in September. Booking and further details are available by phoning Ellen Knowles on 0121 246 6100.

Copyright Trinity Mirror Plc 2004