News

Lack of sign language interpreters in daily briefings leads to legal case against government

Posted on: April 29, 2020 by Mariella Brown

Campaigners from the deaf community have started legal proceedings against the government over the lack of British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters at the daily media Covid-19 briefings.

A video created by the campaign group #WhereIsTheInterpreter? says that the 87,000 deaf people in the UK are missing out on vital information.

The video shows a range of deaf individuals, organisations and charities across the UK calling on the Prime Minister’s office to provide a BSL English Interpreter as the group claims the lack of interpreters breaches the Equality Act 2010.

The group says that British Sign Language (BSL) is their first language and the lack of BSL signing has left some members of the deaf community unaware of the essential coronavirus updates from the government.

According the group, BSL users cannot always access the English language so if subtitles are available they may not be fully understood.

Chris Fry of legal firm, Fry Law says that although the BBC has agreed to use interpreters on its news channel, when the clips are replayed they do not necessarily feature an interpreter.

The daily briefings in Scotland and Wales do however position an interpreter 2m behind the speaker.

In a statement to the BBC, Downing Street said: “We have established British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation at the daily No. 10 press conference via the BBC News Channel and iPlayer…and are working to ensure greater replication of this signed interpretation across a wider range of media channels.”