September 1st. 10 years have passed since the act on the interpretation service for persons with disabilities entered into force and the service was transferred to Kela. The use of the service has more than doubled from 2011 to 2019.

The law on the interpretation service of persons with disabilities is unique on a global scale. The law has enabled a nationwide interpretation service for people with hearing impairments, hearing impairments or speech impairments. The transfer of the service to Kela has promoted equality between customers: interpretation is organised in the same way, regardless of the place of residence and the municipality.

“Over the years, the service has been developed according to customers’ wishes and needs. One example is the personal interpreters lists introduced three years ago. They will now enable customers to better influence who interprets them,” says Sari Paloposki, Head of the Disabled Interpretation Centre.

The law also brought with it the right to interpretation on foreign travel. In 2019, the service was used by a total of 290 people on foreign trips. Of them, there were 140 people with hearing impairments, 82 people with speech impairments and 68 people with hearing impairments.

Service usage doubled from 2011 to 2019

Kela has been collecting statistics for the interpretation service since 2011. The statistics follow, for example, interpretation orders and hours spent.

In less than 10 years, the number of interpretation orders has doubled. In 2011, customers placed 88,000 orders, and nine years later, in 2019, they placed 174,000 orders.

The number of interpreting hours used has increased even more. In 2011, customers spent around 210,000 interpreting hours, and in 2019 the number of hours had increased to around 510,000.

The increase in use is also reflected in the costs. In 2011, the cost of the service was EUR 27.0 million Eur. In 2019, the cost of the service had increased by EUR 48.1 million Eur.

On the other hand, there have been no major changes in the number of users over the last 10 years.

A total of 5,900 people were entitled to the interpretation service at the end of 2019. Of these, 3,400 used the service for at least 1 hour a year. The majority of users of the service, 2,300 customers, are hearing impaired. There are 800 people with speech impairment and 270 people with hearing impairments. The number of people with speech impairments has increased the most.

The korona epidemic affected the use of the service in early 2020

From January 2020 to June, the use of the service decreased compared to early 2019. In the spring, many services and hobbies for which customers ordered interpretation services were paused due to the coronary epidemic. As a result, the number of interpreting orders and the interpreting hours used decreased.

From January 2020 to March, the use of the service was at the same level as in the previous year. However, from April to June, the number of orders decreased by about 30% compared to the previous year. There were about 32,000 interpreting orders, while 43,000 were orders a year earlier. Over the same period, the number of interpreting hours decreased by more than 50%. From April to June, the interpretation service was used only 60,000 hours, which is 70,000 hours less than in 2019.

In order to alleviate the situation of customers, Kela authorised producers to offer interpretation remotely. At the same time, Kela’s own remote service opening hours were expanded.

In early 2020, the cost of the interpreting service for people with disabilities was EUR 19.3 million Eur. During the same period, the costs were EUR 24.0 million Eur.

Finnish Report – Original source from: KELA.FI