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“I feel valued and listened to.” – Signalise co-op

Case study

17th June 2021
What is a co-op?
Signalise co-op
Signalise brings deaf people and BSL interpreters together (photographer Robin Mitchell)

Signalise is a sign language interpretating service that aims to revolutionise the way healthcare providers request, contract and deliver interpreting services for deaf people.

The co-op uses a digital platform that brings together deaf people, interpreters and health staff – and does away with profit-led corporations that have traditionally been the connection between these groups.

Based in Merseyside, Signalise was created to put local people in charge and keep profits locally – not for shareholders or global companies. For sign language interpreter Kwan Parry, joining the co-op was an empowering move.

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We’ve never had control over our services. We’re told what to do by faceless agencies and it felt like the time for change.

– BSL interpreter, Kwan Perry

When asked about the benefits of being a member of Signalise, Kwan said: “Being part of a group where I feel valued and listened to – where you can feed into a bigger group. Interpreters and deaf members come together and have meetings. We vote on things and discuss things, instead of just being emailed a job sheet.

“I think the collaboration part is crucial. We provide a service to a community, and we need their feedback. I’ll happily accept their feedback. It’s new, it’s innovative, it’s exciting to be in.”

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Join a co-op because it’s a chance to change things at the coal face and make a stand. For me, being part of this co-op is a chance to stand up for my profession and the deaf community – and think about the bigger picture. It’s about having a say in designing something that’s finally fit for purpose.
– Kwan Perry
Remote video URL
Watch a short video clip of Signalise

Sarah is another member of the co-op. A deaf person and service user, she also feels empowered by being part of Signalise. She said: “I can find the interpreter who’s most suitable for the job – with the right level of experience.

“Before, agencies ignored my reasons. They didn’t understand why I wanted a different interpreter, and I was disempowered. Signalise understands our rights. It’s a great service, making it much smoother for interpreters and deaf people.”

Sarah is excited for the future of Signalise and all the possibilities the service has for helping improve the lives of its users. “I think there will be an impact on deaf people’s mental health. I think Signalise will help improve the mental health of the deaf community because it’s resolving our stresses.”

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