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Citizen's Advice work with the Deaf Community

Check our this video from CAB all about their work to make their services accessible in BSL.

We’ve been workoing with CAB in Peterborough who have been attending our drop in services and now have regular slots with BSL interpreters. As you can see from the video or transcript – working together with CDA – Peterborough CAB are leading the way!

Here’s a transcript of the video.

Busting Barriers BSL Project: about the project

My name is Steve Emery, I work for Citizens Advice. I have produced a video in BSL and it has three parts: firstly, I will explain what Citizens Advice is; secondly, I will describe my role and what it involves; and thirdly, I will explain where the funding for the project comes from.


Firstly, what is Citizens Advice? Previously it was known as CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau); the name and logo have changed but it is the same service as before.  From now on I will call it Citizens Advice.

So what is Citizens Advice and what does it do? Citizens Advice is a national charity that offers a free and confidential advice service for people experiencing problems. For example if you are having issues with benefits, debt, your pension, employment or housing, Citizens Advice can offer independent advice.

My role as National BSL Strategy Coordinator

Secondly, what is my job with Citizens Advice and what does it involve? My job title is National BSL Strategy Co-ordinator and I have two key responsibilities: firstly, managing a project based in the Midlands, and secondly, national strategic planning. That involves working with head office on how to improve services to BSL users. I will now outline my responsibilities in more depth.

1. Managing the Midlands Project

Managing the Midlands project involves overseeing the services that have been set up there. A project worker, Ernesto Del Carpio, has been working at Wolverhampton Citizens Advice for 13 years as a Deaf BSL adviser and he is now the Regional Project Co-ordinator. We have expanded the service in the Midlands so Citizens Advice now employs additional Deaf BSL Advisers: two in Wolverhampton, one in Birmingham and one in Derby.

What this means is that if you live in one of these areas you can now visit an adviser and receive advice face-to-face advice in BSL. We are also piloting a new service in these areas in early 2016, whereby you can contact an adviser online and communicate with them in BSL via FaceTime or Skype.

One of my key responsibilities therefore is managing the Midlands project but I also have a role in working with Citizens Advice nationally, which involves strategic planning to improve services to BSL users.

2. National Strategic Planning

The national planning role also has two parts, the first is working with the head office of Citizens Advice and the second is working with local Citizens Advice services. Head office has several different teams, for example Learning Development and Training team, Campaigns and Policy Team, an Information Communication team (Comms). My aim is to work with these teams, encouraging them to improve access to advice for BSL users.

With regards to working locally, Citizens Advice has over 300 member charities offering 600 services* across the UK, all are independent charities, and my role is to work with offices to be a point of contact and encourage improving access to BSL users. There are already examples of good practice with some local offices providing accessible advice in BSL. Following are four examples:

  1.  As I have already explained, the Midlands area offers advice in BSL through the employment of Deaf BSL Advisers as part of this project;
  2.  Sheffield offers advice through hearing advisers who are fluent, or aiming for fluency, in BSL and, importantly, they consult regularly with the local Deaf community on how to improve their services;
  3.  Peterborough have also consulted with their local Deaf community and as a result now offer a regular fortnightly ‘drop-in’ service where a BSL/English interpreter is provided to enable Deaf people to obtain advice in BSL from a hearing Adviser;
  4. Milton Keynes offers a video relay service, whereby a Deaf person can visit the office and communicate with a hearing adviser by making contact with an interpreter on webcam via the internet. Or, the Deaf person can call the video relay service direct from their home: they contact and communicate with a BSL/English interpreter via webcam who in turn contacts a Milton Keynes based adviser who speaks English, which is then interpreted into BSL.

Project funding and further information

Finally, funding for the project is from two sources, the Big Lottery Fund and the Sir Halley Stewart Trust. The project is funded for two years (June 2015 until June 2017).

For further information on the project please contact me at, or SMS: 07775414253. FaceBook and Twitter are coming soon where I will post regular updates.

Thank you for watching!

Here’s the CDA CAB video too!