What does a BSL Interpreter do in theatre?

A BSL Interpreter (British Sign Language) is someone who interprets a conversation between deaf British Sign Language users and hearing people. They will translate BSL into spoken English and spoken English into BSL for easy communication between both. BSL Interpreters are used during organised performances for those who are deaf to translate the show. 

Search our training, experience and funding opportunities here.

What are the main responsibilities of a BSL Interpreter?

  • Preparing before assignments
  • Listening carefully to, or watching what is said or signed
  • Interpreting what is said or signed
  • Finding the best way to express everything that is said or signed

What qualifications do I need to be a BSL Interpreter?

To be a BSL Interpreter you will need one of the following qualifications:

  • A degree in British Sign Language and Interpreting
  • Postgraduate or master’s degree in interpreting or translation specific to BSL
  • Level 6 Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting

Find a training opportunity for you here.

What skills do I need to be a BSL Interpreter?

  • Strong communication
  • Foreign language skills
  • Knowledge of the English language
  • Attention to detail
  • Customer service skills
  • Patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • Ability to work well under pressure
  • Flexible and open to change e.g. change of date or time or age of audience

What does a career as a BSL Interpreter look like?

You can work for an organisation that supports deaf people, or in a school or college as an educational support assistant for example. You can do a British Sign Language qualification on the job to qualify as an Interpreter whilst also gaining experience in the role. If you are a BSL Interpreter you can work in almost any field and if you have a passion for theatre you can make yourself known to organisations who require a BSL Interpreter.

Read our blog 'How to become a freelancer in theatre' to learn some tips about how to promote yourself.

How much does a BSL Interpreter earn?

A BSL Interpreter can earn between £20K and £35K per year. 

You also search for roles as a BSL Interpreter using The Stage Jobs website here.



Photo: Shutterstock

Published: 24 October 2019

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