Sign Language Bid to Aid Deaf at Work; Training Project for Firms Aims to Help Job Prospects

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Byline: Laura Davis

A NEW scheme has been launched to make sign language interpreters available to all Merseyside businesses.

The Merseysign initiative, which is the first of the kind in the UK, aims to boost employment prospects for deaf people across the region.

Under the three-year project, a team will be trained in British Sign Language (BSL)and interpreting skills.

John Brennan,chief executive of the Merseyside Society for Deaf People in West Derby, said the scheme would help tackle the unemployment problems experienced by its members.

He said: ``Thousands of deaf people on Merseyside use sign language but from the high street to the job centre, there is a massive shortfall of interpreters.

``It's not surprising that deaf people are twice as likely to be unemployed as people in general.

``Thanks to the Merseysign project, we will soon be in a position to reverse this trend.''

Merseysign is backed by Greater Merseyside Learning & Skills Council and the Objective 1 European Social Fund Programme.

Over the next three years, 36 students will be trained as interpreters by the University of Central Lancashire's DeafStudies Team.

There are currently only 199 Members of the Register of BSL/English Interpreters in Britain, serving around 70,000 deafBSL users. …