Different Types of Communication Professionals

Many different types of Communication Professionals support deaf people; it can be difficult to know exactly what they do or how they work.

Here at terptree, we have devised a post that will help educate you on the different types of communication professionals available—helping you to understand their roles and responsibilities better and provide the most suitable professional for the deaf person.

British Sign Language Interpreter

British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreters enable communication between deaf and hearing people. This is crucial for those people who use BSL as their first or preferred language.

British Sign Language was recognised as an official language back in 2003.  It has its own grammatical structure and syntax.

An Interpreter conveys information from one language to another.  They work simultaneously without adding or omitting any meaning and with full respect for confidentiality.

An Interpreter is not there to be involved in the interaction or to offer any advice.  They can guide the participants on the practicalities surrounding the interpreting job.  Everything that is said will be interpreted, including any side comments or questions.

Interpreters can also interpret from written text to BSL, for example, in a written exam or on medical consent forms.

Learn more here.

Electronic Notetaker

It is important to remember that when a deaf person is either trying to lip-read the presenter or watch the Interpreter, they are unable to take notes at the same time, as this would involve switching eye gaze and missing the content.

Hearing people can take notes simultaneously while listening to the content.

So, Electronic Notetakers would be used to take notes at meetings, conferences, and university lectures, presentations or seminars.

Learn more here.

Speech to Text Reporters

A Speech to Text Reporter (STTR) listens to what is being said and inputs it word for word into an electronic shorthand keyboard called a Stenography or a Palantype, which is linked to a laptop.

Unlike a QWERTY keyboard, not every letter is pressed, but several keys will be pressed at once, which represent whole words, phrases or short forms.

Specifically designed software will then convert these phonetic chords back into English, which can then be displayed for someone to read.  The text is displayed on either the screen of a laptop for a sole user or projected onto a large screen or a series of plasma screens for a larger number of users.

A Speech to Text Reporter produces a verbatim account of what is said at speeds in excess of 200 words per minute.  Extra information, such as (laughter) or (applause) is shared in brackets.  This informs the user of the service of the mood and the environmental aspects, such as shouting and banging as well.

Learn more here.


A lipspeaker is a hearing person who has been professionally trained to be easy to lipread.  They provide communication support for deaf people by using spoken language and lipreading.  To do this, they sit opposite the deaf person and silently repeat what the speaker is saying in a clearly lipreadable way.  They clearly reproduce the shapes of the words and the natural rhythm and stress used by the speaker.

This means that the lipreader looks at the Lipspeaker but ‘listens’ to the speaker.  The Lipspeaker’s job is to make sure that the speaker’s message is passed on in full.

Learn more here.

Interpreter for deafblind people

Deafblind people have different needs and preferences when it comes to communication.

Deafblindness is a dual sensory impairment/loss, which describes the fact that two senses are being affected.  Another form of Deafblindness is Ushers Syndrome.  This is where someone experiences hearing loss and an eye disorder called retinitis pigmentosa (RP).

Someone with Ushers will experience progressive degeneration of the retina, which will cause an ongoing loss of peripheral vision.  This would mean that the person could only see straight ahead of them.  Ushers can also cause night blindness and can cause balance problems.

They could choose to work with a; Manual Deafblind Interpreter, Hands on Deafblind Interpreter or a Visual Frame Deafblind Interpreter.

Learn more here.

Deaf Interpreter/Translator

A Registered Sign Language Translator (RSLT) is a Deaf Interpreter who translates from written text/English into BSL.

Deaf Interpreters are native, first-language BSL users.  They are able to use their years of experience to produce BSL in a way that is understood by Deaf BSL users.

Learn more here.


Captioning can be a really useful addition to any video content that a deaf person needs to access.  Live captions are great if the content needs to be immediately accessible, or they can be added afterwards.

We would always recommend you ask the deaf person what service they would prefer, as this could change depending on the setting.

Learn more here.

Specialist Support Professional (SSP)

Specialist Support Professionals are usually recommended when assessing Deaf students.
This professional works in a tailored way to support the individual’s needs and their personal learning style.

An SSP will work with a deaf student on planning their workload, structuring assignments, supporting access to research sources, supporting preparation for assignments and providing the HEI with specific advice on making adjustments aimed at the disability team and teaching staff.

Learn more here.


Related Posts:

10 Questions to ask before you appoint an interpreting agency.

#WhereIsThe Interpreter: The pivotal role that Communication Professionals play