Social Work & Health Committee
21 October 2008
Agenda Item No:
REPORT ON THE ROLE, REMIT AND IMPACT
OF THE DEAF COMMUNICATION SERVICE
1.0 Purpose of Report
1.1 The purpose of this report is to brief members on the work of the Deaf
2.1 The Deaf Communication Service is part of Fife Council Social Work Service,
and is located in Fife Sensory Impairment Centre, Kirkcaldy.
2.2 This report evidences how the Deaf Communication Service and its partners
are addressing the Council’s agreed priority of ‘targeting support to vulnerable
people’ and ‘becoming a top performing council’. This fits with national
legislation in terms of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and 2005 which
“Every public authority shall in carrying out its functions have due regard to
….. the need to promote equality of opportunity between disabled persons
and other persons”.
Within this, the overall objective of the Social Work Service is to meet
assessed need and manage risk in relation to individuals, families and the
wider community so that people are protected and can enjoy quality of life.
2.3 The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007’.also underpins the
work of the Deaf Communication Service; the Act identifies adults at risk as
people aged 16 years or over, who, because they are “affected by disability,
are more vulnerable to being harmed than others who are not so affected”.
2.4 Although there is no official register, it is estimated that there are
approximately 400 profoundly deaf sign language users in Fife. Nationally, it
is estimated that 1 in 7 of the population are affected by hearing loss and this
figure is increasing. Within Fife, this would represent around 49,000 people
who are hard of hearing.
3.0 Role of the Service
3.1 The Deaf Communication Service promotes access and inclusion
for deaf people and delivers a range of services to Deaf, deafened, hard of
hearing and deafblind people of all ages across Fife.
3.2 The Deaf Communication Service organises communication support and
provides sign language interpreters, notetakers, speech to text reporters,
deafblind guide communicators and lipspeakers for all kinds of meetings and
appointments throughout Fife.
3.3 The Service provides assessment in line with eligibility criteria for
individuals whose lives have been severely affected by hearing loss and gives
advice, support and information to the service user, family members and
3.4 Workplace assessments are also carried out to support employees and
employers in the workplace where hearing loss has become an issue.
3.5 Deaf Awareness/Interpreter Awareness Training is delivered to Council staff
and other professionals as requested. The Team also advises and trains
Council staff on the importance of using interpreters to make all services fully
accessible to Deaf people and to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act
1995 and 2005.
3.6 Deaf Awareness Training is currently being delivered to approximately 500
staff at all levels in Council run Care Homes.
3.7 Training sessions also take place in primary schools when the children are
undertaking projects about special needs or sensory loss. British Sign
Language Classes are taught by DCS to professionals, the public and in 3
schools. A class of 8 pupils, 7 hearing and 1 Deaf, is currently being taught
BSL Level 1 – a first for Fife.
4.0 Performance Monitoring
4.1 Interpreting Services
During the period April 2007 – March 2008, 1681 interpreter bookings were
fulfilled across Fife.
During the period April 2008 – August 2008, 726 interpreter bookings were
fulfilled across Fife.
4.2 Service User Contacts:
During the period April 2007 – March 2008, there were 543 service user
During the period April 2008 – August 2008 there were 283 service user
5.0 Partnership Working
5.1 The Deaf Communication Service is heavily involved in working with other
agencies, including, Audiology Services, Police, Fire Service, Fife Community
Safety Partnership, Citizens Advice & Rights Fife (CARF), NHS Fife, Adult
Basic Education. A policy is in place with NHS Fife regarding use of
interpreters for patients who are Deaf BSL users, including access to out of
hours interpreters. This is being monitored and evaluated.
5.2 The Inland Revenue in Fife has the highest number of sign language
interpreter bookings, provided by the local authority, in the United Kingdom,
this fits with Fife Council’s priority of being a top performing Council.
5.3 In line with Fife Council’s priority of being a top performing Council, in June
2008, an interpreter with the Deaf Communication Service was presented
with the WOW! Award for Scotland. The WOW! Award is a national customer
services award for outstanding customer service. The interpreter was
nominated by a service user for work which included, among other things,
establishing a text messaging service with the emergency services so that
Deaf people can send text messages from their mobile phones where they
are involved in, or come across, situations requiring the attendance of the
emergency services. The Team was also runner up for the same project in
the Council’s 2008 Excellence Awards.
5.4 An SMS Text facility has been developed with NHS Fife so that Deaf people
can access the NHS complaints system. In addition to this, currently there is
a project involving consultation with Deaf BSL users for NHS 24 to set up an
SMS text facility. Citizens Advice & Rights Fife (CARF) now use SMS texting
to communicate with Deaf people.
5.5 Through joint working, Fife Constabulary has created a small card which sign
language users can show to police officers to indicate that they require a sign
language interpreter for any communication. In addition, every police officer
in Fife has received Interpreter Awareness Training.
5.6 Funding through the Fife Society for the Blind has been made available for a
partnership project with the Deaf Communication Service to screen 100
service users in Care Homes in order to determine the level of dual sensory
loss. This will be used to train care staff and lead to more comprehensive
care plans at the point of arrival in care.
5.7 The Deaf Communication Service will continue to undertake assessment and
meet identified need and develop the service in partnership with external
agencies and internal Council Services.
6.1 Members are asked to note the contents of this report.
Executive Director (Social Work)
Social Work Service
Yvonne Jones, Service Manager, Adults Services (Ext 493776)
South Parks Resource Centre
9 October 2008