British Sign Language Communication Support Workers (CSWs) usually work in schools or colleges. However, if you have the appropriate BSL qualification, you can also find job opportunities as a Personal Assistant or as an assistant for an office worker.
It is important to note that CSWs are not BSL interpreters. Interpreters receive substantial training that enables them to facilitate communication fluently taking into account cultural and linguistic differences. CSWs are often still learning BSL themselves and usually do not have the training to work fluently between two languages.
What does a CSW do?
According to Adept CSW Code of Practice, a CSW enables access to communication. The support usually involves two-way communication through BSL and English. In education, a CSW liaises with different professionals such as the Teacher for the Deaf, the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) and other CSWs.
CSWs tend to learn on the job. They need to navigate complex issues such as ADHD or Dyslexia as well as sign competently.
There is no central register for communication support workers. However, it is good practice for CSWs to have national accredited qualifications to work in education, particularly in College.
Where do I find CSW jobs?
Communication Support Worker jobs can be found in a variety of places – schools will often advertise vacancies near the end of the academic year (from May onwards) so that a deaf child has support in place for the new academic year. Schools that have a deaf unit tend to have the most vacancies.
There are also Facebook groups that advertise ‘Deaf Jobs’. These include jobs working with deaf students at school or college.
What is the hourly rate for a CSW?
The hourly rate depends on the Communication Support Worker’s language qualifications, skills, experience and location. Average salary will be between £10 – £21 per hour and hours will usually follow school hours (8.30 – 3pm). On occasions, CSWs will be required to work evenings for a school event (e.g. parents evening).
Some CSWs are freelance and will be self-employed but most are employed by schools or colleges to work with one or two specific children.
Ideally, CSWs should have a minimum of BSL Level 3 (equivalent to an A-Level in BSL) and a good command of English. If a CSW has a lower qualification (BSL 1 or BSL 2), the knock on effect is huge – you automatically restrict a deaf child’s access to education because the CSW lacks the linguistic fluency needed to access important concepts. BSL Level 3 provides the understanding of linguistic and cultural concepts that make access to the national curriculum easier.
Minimum requirements for a CSW
Like all support roles, the CSW role is based on the need for great communication and interpersonal skills. Knowledge of educational concepts is not usually needed, but you will be at an advantage if you have worked in a school or college before or have some knowledge of special educational needs.
An enhanced DBS certificate is fundamental to any CSW post. Both CSW and the young person using support need to stick to clear boundaries. This is particularly important with secondary school students or college students.
As mentioned previously, BSL Level 3 is the ideal level of linguistic ability for a CSW, any less and a CSW will struggle to put topics into BSL. This is due to the limited vocabulary learned at Level 1 and Level 2.
Consider this scenario:
You go to school in Spain and your support worker has rudimentary knowledge of English.
How much of the curriculum do you think you will be able to access?
Are you a communication support worker? If you wish to be notified of jobs, you can register for jobs in and around the UK here:.