There are many different types of Communication Professionals who support deaf people, it can be difficult to know exactly what they do or how they are utilised.

Here at terptree we have devised a post that will help educate you on the different types of professionals available. Helping you to better understand their roles and responsibilities:

BSL/English Interpreter:

An interpreter conveys information from one language to another. No words are added or omitted, it is an exact translation working simultaneously with each language. Full respect of confidentiality is abided by.

An interpreter does not offer their opinion or advice, they simply relay information between different parties. Only relevant comments on the practicalities surrounding the particular job at hand may be included by the interpreter.

Everything that is said will be interpreted, including any side comments and questions.  Interpreters can also interpret from written text to BSL for example: in a written exam, or on medical consent forms.

It is important to:

  • Maintain communication with the deaf person and not the interpreter
  • Reduce background noise
  • Ensure only 1 person speaks at a time

This will allow the interpreters role to run more smoothly.

There may be a co-interpreter if the workload and duration call for it.

Communication Support Worker: (CSW)

CSWs are multi-skilled and flexible, using a variety of methods to suit each individual. Whether it’s:CSWs mainly work within the education sector supporting deaf learners to communicate with their teachers and other students.

–          Interpreting between spoken English and BSL

–          Notetaking

–          And/or lipspeaking

They work as part of the education team alongside the teacher and other professionals.


note-taker-1                    note-taker-2

There are 2 types of note taking for Deaf and hard of hearing people:

–          Manual

–          Electronic

Both produce summary rather than detailed notes. An example of where a note taker can be useful is for a Deaf student who needs to watch a tutor, lip speaker or British Sign Language (BSL)/English Interpreter and therefore cannot take notes.

They can also be used by someone who has limited lip-reading skills or who does not use BSL.

Speech-to-text Reporter: (STTR)


A Speech-to-Text Reporter (STTR) listens to what is being said and inputs it, word for word, onto an

electronic shorthand keyboard which is linked to their laptop. Unlike a QWERTY keyboard not every letter in a word is pressed, but several keys will be pressed at once which represent whole words, phrases or shortforms. Specially designed software will then convert these phonetic chords back into English which can then be displayed for people to read.

The text is displayed either on the screen of a laptop for a sole user, or projected onto a large screen for a larger number of users. A STTR produces a verbatim account of what is said at speeds in excess of 200 WPM and also gives extra information, such as ‘laughter ‘or ‘applause’, to keep the user informed of the mood of the meeting, conference etc.



A lipspeaker is a hearing person who has been professionally trained to be easy to lipread. They clearly reproduce the shapes of words and the natural rhythm and stress used by the speaker. They will also use facial expressions, gestures and finger spelling to aid the lipreader’s understanding. They do not overemphasise their speech.

A lipspeaker will sit opposite the deaf person and silently repeat what a speaker is saying in a clearly lipreadable way.  This means that the lipreader is looking at the lipspeaker but ‘listening’ to the speaker and their job is to make sure that the speaker’s message is passed on in full.

DeafBlind Manual:


Tactile signing is a common means of communication used by people with both a sight and hearing impairment, which is based on a standard system of Deaf manual signs. Hands on signing is where the user, receives communication through holding and touching the hands of the interpreter.