Jeff McWhinney's Story

Author: Jeff McWhinney
Jeff McWhinney's Story

Jeff’s Fellowship looked at the benefits and disadvantages of live online video sign language interpreting, from the perspectives of the deaf consumer and the sign language interpreter.

Having established this form of service back in the 1990s, the United States was seen as the world-leading model, with the Antipodean countries not far behind. Jeff travelled to San Francisco and several cities in New Zealand and Australia, researching the latest in video technology applications and training for interpreters. 

Based on what he had seen abroad, Jeff drafted guidelines for best practice in video interpreting. He was also able to determine the optimal situations for video interpreting, like GP appointments, as well as identifying situations that do not lend themselves well to the service, such as live court hearings.

Back in the UK, Jeff brought together a number of professional sign language interpreters and deaf people, and formed a set of recommended practices for video interpreting. These included ergonomics as well as work practice adaptions, and have since been adopted by the United Kingdom Council on Deafness.

There are now three national video interpreting services in the UK, with more and more deaf people using the service every day. What is crucial is that the waiting time for a sign language interpreter for GP appointments has been brought down from an average of 14 days in the 2000s, to mere seconds today.