TLS in partnership with Redbridge Council to provide on-demand BSL service

TLS in partnership with Redbridge Council to provide on-demand BSL service

We are delighted to have worked with Redbridge Council and Sign Solutions to launch a brand new on-demand BSL video service for their residents.

When Deaf residents contact the council, they can now have the conversation interpreted live on video via a BSL interpreter, giving them agency and control over the communication.

A Deaf Redbridge resident said: “I don’t want to rely on my husband to communicate and make phone calls for me. I find it really stressful. The new system is perfect because if I want to phone or come in and speak to someone on reception, I can go into a room and get an interpreter on a video call.”

Speak to your account manager if you think video interpreting would be useful for your service users. 

Do you know about Easy Read translation?

Accessibility is very close to our hearts at TLS; it’s also a legal obligation under the Equality Act (2010). All organisations must provide information to their users in an accessible format.

What does this mean? Accessibility covers so many different areas, but at its heart just means considering your entire audience and the various barriers they may face in communicating with you.

Easy Read is a method of taking complex information and re-working it into an accessible, easy-to-understand format. This can help learning disabled service users to live more independently and have more agency in decisions about their lives.

The basic guidelines of Easy Read are:

  • Text should be broken down into short sentences
  • Images should be selected to represent each sentence of text where possible
  • Language should be simplified wherever possible, and any necessary complicated words or terms should be explained
  • Text should be in a large font size, minimum 14pt
  • Text should be presented on A4 pages where possible, as A5 or smaller are not as accessible
  • Text should always be aligned on the right hand side of the page, and images should be aligned on the left-hand side of the page
  • Complex or ornate fonts or formatting should be avoided
  • Design elements should be kept to a minimum so as not to distract from the information.

Talk to us if you would like to know more about providing Easy Read translations for your service users, either by speaking to your account manager or calling 0203 376 8182

your month ahead - Important upcoming dates for your calendar (May)

6 - 12 – Deaf Awareness Week

 Deaf Awareness Week, launched by the UK Council of Deafness, takes place annually and aims to raise awareness of the barriers that prevent deaf and Deaf people from participating fully in our society. These can range from lack of access to BSL interpreters or captioned content, and can result in social isolation and mental health problems, reduced access to essential services and limited job opportunities. The theme this year is Celebrating Love and Trust.

26 – Lag B’Omer, Judaism  Lag B’Omer marks the revelation of the Zohar, a seminal text for Jewish mystics, as well as the anniversary of the end of an ancient plague that killed 24,000 Jews between the festivals of Passover and Shavuot one year.  Weddings, parties and haircuts are forbidden during the 49 days of Omer, but on Lag B’Omer, the 33rd day, restrictions are lifted and the celebrations are lively. The most common way to celebrate is with a bonfire – these are held all over the world where there are Jewish communities and symbolise the light of spiritual revelation.  As well as building fires, followers also go for family picnics, sing songs and, for many, give their children their first haircut.  FREE online events  Free webinar on 'How belonging impacts wellbeing and workplace productivity' from d&i Leaders, Tuesday 30 April, 11:05-11:55.  Free lecture on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Public Health from CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, Thursday 2 May, 21:00-22.30.  May’s dates at a glance:  Religious and Cultural  1 – Beltane, Wicca and Pagan2 – Twelfth Day of Ridvan, Baha’i3 – Feast of Saints Philip and James, Catholic Christian3 – Holy Friday, Orthodox Christian5 – Pascha (Easter), Orthodox Christian6 – Yom Hashoah, Judaism9 – Feast of the Ascension, Christian10 – Akshaya Tritiya, Hindu and Jain13 – Yom Hazikaron, Judaism14 – Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Judaism14 – Feast of Saint Matthias, Catholic Christian19 – Pentecost, Christian23 – Birthday of Guru Amar Das, Sikh23 – Vesak, Buddhist23 – Declaration of The Báb, Baha’i26 – Lag Baomer, Judaism26 – Trinity Sunday, Christian29 – Ascension of Baha‘U’llahm, Baha’i30 – The Feast of Corpus Christi, Catholic Christian31 – Visitation of The Blessed Virgin Mary, Catholic Christian  Awareness and Events  5 – International Family Equality Day6 - 12 – Deaf Awareness Week8 – World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day13 - 19 – Coeliac UK Awareness Week15 – International Day of Families16 – Global Accessibility Awareness Day17 – International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia21 – World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development21 - 22 – TUC's Disabled Workers' Conference22 – International Day for Biological Diversity24 – Pansexual Visibility Day

Language News Multi Cultural

in other news: stories from the language industry and beyond (April)

Language barriers can cause medical harm - BBC News  A woman who went to her GP with a urinary tract infection missed opportunities to have her stage 4 cancer detected, as she used her son to interpret, a report has found.  AND FINALLY: Deaf interpreter Topher González Ávila has gone viral for his exuberant interpretation of I’m Just Ken at the Oscars. Watch his fabulous performance here!

Language fact file: Farsi/Dari/Tajik

Spoken in: Iran (Farsi), Afghanistan (Dari), Tajikistan (Tajik)

Number of native speakers: 72 million  

Learn some: If you are introduced to someone, say it’s nice to meet them with ‘khoshvaghtam’! 

Fast facts:

  • While Farsi and Dari are dialects of the same language, they are only mutually intelligible when written. The spoken form of each dialect sound very different. By contrast, Farsi and Tajik are only mutually intelligible in their spoken forms but not their written forms!
  • Farsi is one of the oldest languages in the world that is still spoken. A Farsi reader can read poetry written around 300AD with little trouble compared to an English speaker reading something in English of that time. 
  • Farsi poetry plays an incredibly important role in everyday life. The language is so well known for its poetry that the walls of the UN building in New York City are inscribed with words from famous Farsi poet, Sa’adi. They read: “Human beings are members of a whole, since in their creation they are of one essence. When the conditions of the time bring a limb to pain, the other limbs will suffer from discomfort. You, who are indifferent to the misery of others, it is not fitting that they should call you a human being.”

Best practice guide to interpreting for refugees and asylum seekers

Providing communication support for refugees and asylum seekers comes with its own unique challenges and needs extra care and preparation. Most people will not flee their home country without having faced significant adversity there and may come to you in a traumatised state.

At TLS, we supply interpreters who are trained and experienced to handle these interactions in a sensitive and appropriate way. They will approach emotional and difficult conversations with professionalism and care. They will communicate but not advocate.

You can play a part in making sure you support your service users who are refugees or asylum seekers. Here are some tips around communication support:

  • If you can, find out before making the booking whether your service user would prefer an interpreter of a particular gender and political or cultural background. For example, it may not be appropriate to use an interpreter who is from an ethnic group that has been involved in violence or oppression in the service user’s country of origin.
  • Refugees and asylum seekers may not know they can request language support. Posters in reception areas can help raise awareness, especially if they are displayed in a variety of languages. Speak to us if you need one of these.
  • Ensure reception staff know how to book an interpreter and offer this option proactively. Keeping a language ID chart at reception can help staff identify what language a patient speaks.
  • Be aware that, as with any potentially traumatised service user, you may need to take the conversation slowly. If the conversation is face to face, position yourself in a way that does not intimidate or make the service user uncomfortable. A triangular seating arrangement is usually best, but the UN Refugee Agency recommends that interpreters sit slightly closer to child service users than they do the client, so as not to inadvertently take a position of authority.
  • As always, use professional language interpreters. It may be harder to persuade people coming from countries where they were persecuted by authorities not to use friends or relatives, but it is always best. Take the time to explain why and please do ask us for any support with this that you may need.

Talk to us if you would like to know more about how we support refugees and asylum seekers in our bookings, either by speaking to your account manager or calling 020 3373 4000.

the linguist's story

Every month, we get to know a bit more about one of our linguists. This month, meet Shafiqa Shairshah, an interpreter working in Dari and Farsi.

Tell us about the work you do for TLS.

I have been working at TLS since 2016 as a community interpreter in education and health care, particularly on mental health and child/adult services. I mainly do telephone interpreting appointments and occasionally face to face. The majority of clients I interpret for struggle with mental health and housing issues as they are new to the country, fleeing from conflict in Afghanistan/Iran. 

What has been your favourite project at TLS?

My favourite project has been dealing with mental health appointments and being available on demand when need be. It brings me a lot of joy knowing that I have helped refugees feel seen and heard during their appointments and therapy sessions.

What has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was interpreting for trauma therapy as the patients go in detail about explicit and troubling times during the Afghan war - it's unimaginable what some people go through, including in my own home country of Afghanistan, and then they are trying to make a living in a completely foreign country. But it is a necessity to survive. 

Can you tell us about a time your work has made a difference to someone’s life?

There have been countless times when our patients have felt very appreciative of the interpreting and getting their thoughts and feelings across clearly. One of the patients I was interpreting for in their talking therapy has said that my interpreting has made a big difference to how they felt more seen and heard. Another patient I was interpreting for was in desperate need of housing aid, as they were going to be evicted and homeless in less than two weeks, but by the end of the appointment we managed to find some help for this issue and the client was beyond grateful. They mentioned that if they were to have ended up homeless that they would have gone into severe depression and thankfully we were able to get them out of that position. 

Tell us something interesting about you.

I am interested in gardening and looking after different types of flowers. My husband and I are immensely fond of taking care of our indoor and outdoor plants and flowers in our back garden and I do take a lot of pride in how beautiful we make it. My favourite flower would be lilies and roses, although it is quite hard for me to choose out of the wide variety!

What are your ambitions for the next 12 months?

In the next 12 months I would like to travel to Turkey with my family and keep doing what I’m doing as an interpreter for TLS. I would also like to focus more on my healthy living and lifestyle as I find this very important, whatever age you're at!


TLS a registered supplier to the Language Services Framework

We are pleased to announce that TLS is now a registered supplier of language services to the Language Services Framework, through The North of England Procurement Collaborative. The framework was designed in 2007 by the NHS, for the NHS. This flexible framework can provide a complete solution for customers seeking language services to support delivery to service users who speak, communicate in, or read languages other than English, either individually or in groups. Customers can access all our language services through this and other frameworks. If you have any questions, please contact Samantha Oates at 

your month ahead - Important upcoming dates for your calendar

Eid al-Fitr, on or around 9 April, depending on the first date of Ramadan

Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and, for many Muslims, a month-long fast during daylight hours. It is a joyous celebration, usually focused on food, especially desserts. However, with approximately 2 billion Muslims worldwide, celebrations vary from country to country.

One of the five pillars of Islam is zakat, which means giving to charity. At Eid al-Fitr, there is special charitable giving called Zakat al-Fitr. It is usually given in advance of Eid, so that those in need of it can use it to celebrate.

Wish your Muslim friends an Eid Mubarak, which means ‘blessed Eid’! 

Good Friday, 29 March; Easter Sunday, 31 March; and Easter Monday, 1 April

Easter is the most important festival of the Christian calendar and commemorates Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. It lasts for the whole week from Palm Sunday, a week before Easter Day, but here we look at the three main celebrations: Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.

Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday. It commemorates Christ’s crucifixion. It is a sad day for Christians, which is honoured with a special service in church, where Christians remember Christ’s suffering, which they believe was to save us.

In some countries, there are special Good Friday processions, or re-enactments of the crucifixion.

Easter Sunday marks the occasion, two days later, when some of Christ’s disciples went to the cave where he had been buried, to find that the rock marking the entrance had been moved aside. Two men appeared and told them that Jesus had risen as he had said he would. Later, Jesus appeared to Mary and on another occasion to his followers. It was then that they believed he had been resurrected.

Easter is celebrated with symbols of new life, such as eggs, spring flowers and baby animals. It marks the end of Lent, a period of fasting and deprivation for Christians. Across the world, it is celebrated in many diverse ways, but these often focus on food. 

Easter Monday itself is not an explicitly religious day, though it is marked by Christians celebrating Christ’s resurrection. It is the last day of a long weekend and the date of many traditions around the world, such as egg-rolling or parades.

FREE online events 

Racism & Race Awareness – Lunch & Learn Tickets, Tue 9 Apr 2024 at 14:00 | Eventbrite

Join the Inclusive Employers Community! - Inclusive Employers, 18 April at 10:00

April’s dates at a glance

Religious and Cultural

1 – Easter Monday, Christian

6 – Laylat Al-Qadr, Islam

9 – Chaitra Navratri begins, Hindu

9 – Ugadi (New Year), Hindu

10 – Eid Al-Fitr, Islam

13 – Songkran (Thai New Year), Buddhist

13 – Vaisakhi, Hindu And Sikh

14 – Puthandu, Hindu

15 – Navpad Oli begins, Jain

17 – Rama Navami, Hindu

18 – Birthday Of Guru Angad Dev, Sikh

21 – First day of Ridvan, Baha’i

21 – Mahavir Janma Kalyanak, Jain

21 – Grounation Day, Rastafari

23 – Saint George’s Day, Christian

23 – Hanuman Jayanti, Hindu

23-30 – Passover, Judaism

24-26 – Theravada New Year, Buddhist

25 – Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist, Catholic Christian

27 – Lazarus Saturday, Orthodox Christian

28 – Palm Sunday, Orthodox Christian

29 – Ninth day of Ridvan, Baha’i

30 – Saint James The Great’s Day, Orthodox Christian

Awareness and Events

1 – Fools’ Day

2 – World Autism Awareness Day

6 – International Asexuality Day

7 – World Health Day

8 – International Romani Day

22 – Earth Day

22-28 – Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week

25 – World Malaria Day

26-28 – Tuc's Black Workers' Conference

26 – Lesbian Visibility Day

28 – World Day for Health and Safety at Work

Language News Multi Cultural

in other news - stories from the language industry and beyond

UK Government press conferences will have ‘in situ’ BSL interpreting from spring 2024

A Deaf journalist named Liam O’Dell has been reporting on the UK government’s decision not to use a BSL interpreter at Coronavirus briefings back in 2020, and the subsequent campaign to introduce live interpreting at its press conferences. The campaign has achieved its goals and the government has agreed to have a live BSL interpreter from spring this year.

And finally… Welsh translation error directs drivers to 'town egg gas' - BBC News

A spelling mistake on a Welsh road sign is a reminder to us all not to cut corners and always invest in high quality linguistic support!