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Disabled People

Volume 176: debated on Wednesday 18 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information is available to him on the adequacy of interpreter services provided by local authorities for people with disabilities who are unable to speak English and, in particular, for those who have additional communication handicaps; and if he will make a statement.

Comprehensive information about interpreter services provided by individual local authorities is not held centrally, but it is unlikely that interpreters are appointed solely to help disabled people. A number of local authorities have interpreter and translator posts, to deal with a wide range of business, funded under section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966. Departmental guidance encourages social services departments to consider the use of professional interpreters where appropriate and the departmentally-funded race equality unit compiled a list last year of some 30 translation and interpretation units run or funded by local authorities. People with additional communication problems tend to look for help to health authorities, a few of which have appointed either multilingual staff to work with speech therapists or speech therapists who themselves speak other languages.