Friday 23 September 2022, we started the Court stage in this important action for 276 deaf Claimants in relation to the lack of British Sign language (BSL) by Number10 at the beginning of the Pandemic.
WhereIsTheInterpreter The hearing, held at the Royal Courts of Justice in London this Friday, will see a judge determine whether 276 Deaf people are entitled to compensation over a lack of British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation for the UK Government’s Covid briefings.
The main focus of our campaign was to ensure that our language is recognised and accepted. Sign Language Citizens excluded from largest commercial news organisation, including breaking news on a regional and national level.
Sign Language Community has been fighting for access for years! It is time for the society to change, not us!
Our work is not over yet! #WhereIsTheInterpreter campaign.
National Briefings concerning crisis issues in the UK are expected to be accessible from the same ‘space’ as the speakers and be seen on BBC1 and other national broadcasters’ News programmes. This is why we are campaigning to have the interpreter at the briefings so they can be viewed on all TV channels.
BBC1 is always at the start of every TV menu so is easy to find. The BBC News channel is often difficult to find – for example, 231 Freeview. This is stopping people being able to view the content easily and gain access to vital life saving information in their first language. Asking the deaf community to try to ‘find’ an accessible briefing on another channel is akin to asking a wheelchair user to go around the back of a building in order to be able to access it with ease. Deaf people feel marginalised and excluded.
2 years on, there has still not been any change, even after the legal challenge brought about by Kate Rowley on the 28th July 2021. We need to hold the Government to account, and let them know that our rights cannot be ignored. If we don’t fight to change the system, things will continue to be the way they are! So I and 275 deaf members have taken the decision to bring legal proceedings again, against the Cabinet Office and this will be happening at the Royal Court of Justice on the 23rd September 2022.”
“I truly do not want to be in this position of having to bring a legal challenge, however the government has left me with no choice. We are not asking for anything other than to have our language accepted and to be shown visually on all channels, this will give us parity to hearing people who do not have to rely on accessing information in different formats.
The government make me feel that they are taking away access to reduce diversity, hide and segregate deaf sign language people.
Visibility of BSL Interpreters in the broadcasts in Scotland, Wales and around the world has helped make British Sign Language more mainstream in society. Is this not happening in England! Why? Can anyone explain this? It’s clearly shows that BSL community is highly marginalised, under-represented, and under-researched. This needs to be changed. Not next year or in 6 months. NOW, is the time to change!
Our feelings of exhaustion and hopelessness are swallowing any positive emotions whole. This is affecting our mental well-being.
Lynn Stewart-Taylor would like to campaign with deaf, BSL signing young people to support the legal challenge for press conferences such as COP26 to be inclusive. Deaf, BSL signing children have been systematically neglected in international, national and local responses to the changing climate. I believe it’s important to encourage young people to join the campaign, so that their views are taken into account and they are able to have their say and feel like they can have an impact on the world around them.
It could be individuals, small deaf groups, deaf youth club or whole classes and their teachers joining the campaign.
Would you and your deaf child/children be able to join our campaign? Let’s change the system!
Lynn Stewart-Taylor, Deaf campaigner who led the #WhereIsTheInterpreter campaign, which highlighted the UK government’s failure to provide a BSL interpreter at it’s televised pandemic briefings, is now preparing a new legal class action against the government over its failure to provide BSL interpreters for the COP26 broadcasts.
“I could not believe that we had been totally ignored again. Members of the Sign Language community messaged me straight away, including a deaf teaching assistant concerned about the lack of access for BSL signing children, that meant they were unable to follow the COP26 announcements. The government has failed us. I feel that having come this far, we need to hold the government to account, and let them know that our rights cannot be ignored”.
So I have taken the decision to bring legal proceedings again, against the Cabinet Office.
The Royal Association for Deaf people is supporting the legal action.
To register for the case, you can complete the following form with BSL Guidance/English via this link:
Despite criticism by the Courts in the case of Katherine Rowley v The Cabinet Office, and 275 compensation cases in the Central London County Court, the UK Government continues not to make national broadcasts accessible to deaf people who use British Sign Language (BSL).
Lynn Stewart-Taylor, who founded the “Where is the Interpreter?” campaign which raised funds for the successful legal case, tuned into watch the Government’s broadcast on 7th September only to find there was no interpreter at all. Again, when tuning in to watch the COP26 announcements she found that there was no interpreter, despite assurances from the Government in the Rowley case that at least in-vision interpreters would be provided where on-platform interpreters were impractical.
Chris Fry, who has led the legal challenge on behalf of deaf people since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic has begun the pre-action process for Judicial Review and is now collating numbers for a new class action against the Government on behalf of others who were unable to access the broadcasts. Speaking of his involvement, he said
We had all hoped for change, and that the Government would take deaf rights seriously, but remarkably things appear to have got worse. Failing to build BSL into national broadcasts is a failure to recognise the importance of deaf people in our society and I am now building a further legal challenge to bring the case back to the Courts as quickly as possible.”
After supporting the initial case and campaign, the Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD) has pledged its full support, once again. Amanda Casson Webb, Joint Chief Executive, said,
We are proud to once again, stand by Lynn and our allies in the deaf community to support this legal action so that together, we can ensure that the UK Government fulfils its duty, as defined in the Equality Act – and for deaf BSL users to be fully involved and included in every aspect of life.”
Claims are being brought for compensation as well as policy change.
“I could not believe that we had been totally ignored again. Sign language people messaged me straight away, including a deaf teaching assistant concerned about the lack of access for sign language children that meant they were unable to follow the COP26 announcements. The government has failed us.
I feel that having come this far, we need to hold the Government to account, and let them know that our rights cannot be ignored. If we don’t fight to change the system, things will continue to be the way they are! So I have taken the decision to bring legal proceedings again, against the Cabinet Office.”
There were no BSL/English interpreter on Government YouTube/Social Media Channels on COP26 and Health and Social Care Press Conference.
The Prime Minister’s Opening Statement to the COP26 World Leaders’ Conference streamed and broadcast live by the 10 Downing Street You Tube channel.
Prime Minister opened the World Leaders’ COP26 conference on climate change. This event had been top of the news agenda for some weeks, and Lynn Stewart-Taylor sought to tune in to follow the event only to find that there was no BSL/English Interpreter at all.
02/11/2021 The Prime Minister’s COP26 Press Conference
As she follows the Number 10 You Tube channel, she was alerted to a Press Conference given ‘live’ by the Prime Minister yesterday on 2nd November 2021, and when she tuned into that, she noted that there was still no BSL/English Interpreter.
Press Conference in Health & the Future of Social Care broadcast live by the BBC and hosted by the 10 Downing Street You Tube channel.
Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer arranged a much-heralded 50 minute long press conference on new policies on Health & the future of Social Care. Ms Stewart-Taylor noted that there was no BSL/English Interpreter on the BBC News Channel and switched to watch the Broadcast on the Number 10 You Tube Channel which the Cabinet Office had previously stated would include British Sign Language as a reasonable adjustment to assist deaf people who rely upon BSL.
How can you and deaf organisations help each other?
Encouraging people to reach out to deaf neighbours/community and check on those who are most at risk
Encouraging people to make the most of deaf local online groups, keeping up-to-date and sharing the ‘Evidence Form for #WhereIsTheInterpreter Campaign’
Supporting people who may be anxious about how to fill in the form. Signpost them to the correct advice service or one of our volunteer to help.
Due to person confidentiality, their details will not be publicly confirmed, so please do what you can to respect and protect their privacy, and do not speculate with the local media or on social media.
End of Judicial Review with Reg Cobb, and other deaf BSL users at GDA.
Judicial Review: How did it go?
What is Judicial Review?
Chris Fry, who has led this legal challenge, explains what a Judicial Review is with Helen Caldwell, a BSL/English Interpreter.
Statement #WhereIsTheInterpreter from RAD
Yesterday (Wednesday 16 June 2021) RAD, along with dozens of members of the deaf community, attended the Judicial Review hearing of the #WhereIsTheInterpreter campaign (Katherine Rowley v Minister for the Cabinet Office). It was a historic day for deaf people everywhere, and we are incredibly proud to have supported the campaign, and to have provided written evidence in support of the case.
Whilst a verdict has not yet been reached, we would like to congratulate everyone who has been involved in the campaign, and legal case. We really are stronger together!
Regardless of the outcome, we will continue to work tirelessly and collaboratively with others to defend, and promote, the needs and rights of deaf people.
#WhereIsTheInterpreter: Media briefing note: Thank you to RAD for the translation.
GDA on the Point West News:
GDA on the news! Reg Cobb is featured alongside Lynn Stewart-Taylor, the Deaf Activist leading the Where is the Interpreter campaign. An important day for Deaf people that we were delighted to be part of. Here’s hoping for a positive outcome.
I thought I’d let you know that we are planning a special day on the 16th of June, to watch the Where Is The Interpreter Judicial Review.
It will be a special day for us, so I thought why don’t we arrange to watch it together? The wonderful GDA has kindly agreed for us to use their hall so we can watch the proceedings on a big screen. Of course, we have to make sure that we are COVID-secure which means you will have to pre-register to attend.
So, if you are interested and live around Bristol, Portishead, Gloucester, South Gloucestershire, Worcester, Swansea or any places nearby, why not join us?! If you are interested, please text or email the GDA.
If you live further out, why not try setting something up in your area? Perhaps you could meet up with friends to watch it online, or try contacting your local deaf club, or maybe even watch it with your colleagues at work!
On that day, we will also have the brilliant Yvonne serving us tea, food and cakes from Yumma Cafe. So again, if you are interested, and want food too, please text the GDA, so Yvonne knows how much to cook!
It will be a splendid treat for our special day – to watch the Judicial Review, catch up with one another and enjoy delicious food. I’m so excited!
It is finally happening on 16th June, and I have a few more details on how we can watch it online.
How can you join in?
So, it’s happening on the 16th of June, online only, not in court. This means we have to use their software – Microsoft Teams (MS Teams). You will need to register by email (see the poster).
Please don’t contact Fry Law yourselves, you will have to register with me first to be added to the list.
This helps to keep everything simple so that we know that everyone who wants to attend, is all on one list and not in different places such as social media, so please email only.
I am aware that some people might not have access to the internet or are not sure how to use it, or simply want to watch with others in support.
Perhaps your local deaf club or organisation has a hall that could be used to organise a special screening?
Contact your local deaf club
This is an update about the judicial review court day.This day will be special for us, it is the result of all our efforts. It’s been OVER a year of campaigning and trying to negotiate with the Government.
With the amazing organisations – and yourselves – throughout. We’ve come together as one. That’s one thing I am so proud of- we all came together and supported one another.
By the 16th June, the lockdown rules will have lifted, so we are allowed to meet indoors- of course, still being careful about social distancing.
Perhaps you could ask your deaf clubs, or local organisations, to arrange this and we could have mini-screenings spread throughout the UK! I’m hoping to arrange one with my local organisation to watch in their hall.
If there are any organisations or deaf clubs who would like to arrange this – in a public space or privately – again, please email me, as you will be the first on the list.We want to make sure those deaf organisations can access the link, then those of you who want to watch at home or work, by yourself will be added to a separate list.
So, organisations on one list, individuals on another – and this will be based on a first come first served. At the moment, we are not sure how many links will be allowed to join in online We are still in talks, that’s why we are prioritising deaf clubs and organisations first as this will allow more people to watch it together It will be like a special gathering, after a long year of barely any contact.
When I have received all the names for the lists, this will be passed on to the clerk office. They will then send you the link, just before the time it starts. It will not be given to you 1 or 2 weeks in advance, but on the day itself, just before it starts. So be warned that there may be a bit of a rush to sign in. We expect the link to open around 10 o’clock, then at 10:30am the judge will officially start the proceedings. We expect all the deliberations to last 3 hours, until 12 o’clock. We don’t know when the decision will be – it might be on the day, or they may decide to announce it later on.
Thank you for all your support, see if you can set up a local screening so we can be live all over the UK! Showing that we are still here and supporting this special day.
If Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can all provide a BSL interpreter at their side during Coronavirus briefings, why can’t the UK Government?
Despite the £2.6 million upgrades to a bigger, bespoke media studio – the UK Government has, yet again, shown their lack of regard towards the Deaf community and our pleas for equal access.
It’s clearly not a budget issue. Nor a question of space to comply with social distancing rules. (In which case why don’t the experts appear via video link, like MPs do during Prime Ministers Questions?)
What is the actual issue here?
Since the announcement of the millions spent on the new US-style press room, and Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raabs that this was a case of “making sure we communicate directly with the public … in an effective, coherent way”, my hopes were raised.Have the Government finally listened to our requests and made space for a BSL interpreter to be visible on the platform?
On Monday I anxiously sat down to watch the first ‘new’ briefings – there is no BSL interpreter in the room.
It has been a full year of the coronavirus pandemic, and despite the efforts of our #WhereIsTheInterpreter campaign, the support from deaf organisations and members of our community, the UK Government are still refusing to address our access request.
With our #WhereIsTheInterpreter fundraising campaign now over we are excited to tell you that through our JustGiving page we have raised a whopping £20,000 toward our target.
This is an incredible sum of money that we have raised together and we want to thank everybody that has supported this campaign. We did it TOGETHER!
What fantastic news to end Sign Language Week! After an incredible and daunting year of fundraising, we’ve hit our target raising £20,000 for the #WhereIsTheInterpreter campaign. I’ve been so impressed by the levels of creativity and commitment of everyone who has helped us reach our target.
A big thank you to Sign Solutions, RAD, the DM Raffle, the Give Us The Sign Choir, and every one of you who have donated, spread the word and supported this campaign.
“I can’t believe it – I’m simply lost for words! An incredible moment that I will never forget”.
Thank you, everyone, for all your hard work, and I look forward to updating you on our upcoming court cases, and how the money will be spent in our fight to ensure we have equal access to information in British Sign Language. THANK YOU.
“This has been hard and heroic effort from some hugely dedicated campaigners and thanks to this money we can ensure that the legal action can proceed on a cost protected basis which gives us the best opportunity ever to see permanent lasting change and that and BSL/English Interpreter is as part of mainstream broadcasting”.
In March every year as this represents a special date for Sign Language, deaf community: March 18th 2003 was the date that sign language was officially recognised as a language in the UK. But…..recognised didn’t give British Sign Language (BSL) and new legal rights. Since 18 years BSL was so called ‘recognised’ the lack of equality remains a vast problem . There are many barriers that prevent Sign Language, deaf citizens from the society.
We need your support
We need you SUPPORT, every little penny helps. This is not only for our Sign Language generation but for future deaf Sign Language generations, to protect and promote equality and parity to information.
The Government only provide BSL interpreting on one channel in-vision, which isn’t good enough.
In December 2020 in the face of our Judicial Review, the Government said it would provide BSL Interpreter on all its social media feed….
…..but so far ‘ issues’ have meant that hasn’t happened.
In January 2021, the Government asked the High Court to reject a Judicial Review over #WhereIsTheInterpreter campaign. However, in February 2021, a High Court judge granted permission for the Judicial Review to go ahead.
The firstvideomessage on Twitter exactly one year ago on the 9th March 2020.
#WTI Tweeted everyday …
5 months since walking to Downing Street (October 2020), what’s changed?
When we started this campaign, there was no Interpreter AT ALL. Nothing. On BBC 1.
The outrage from this has brough the Deaf Community together in the largest class action on behalf of Deaf Rights that there’s ever been in the UK. Nearly 300 people brought claims against the Prime Minister.
The Government then provided BSL Interpreting on only one channel in-vision only, which isn’t good enough
Finally in December 2020 in the face of our Judicial Review, the Government said it would provide BSL Interpreters on all its social media feed…
We’ve also won over social media, and the Chair of the Women & Equality Select Committee (Conservative MP, Caroline Nokes) recently said that the Government’s failure to provide Interpreters was ‘Shameful’.
So, the Government is taking better and better steps to make its information accessible to Deaf people, but we’re committed to a total solution.
In terms of What’s Next for #WhereIsTheInterpreter?:
We, Sign Language community, want to see the Government provide BSL versions of all information on-line, not just with BSL Interpreters for television broadcasters.
In January 2021, the Government asked the High Court to reject a judicial review over #WhereIsTheInterpreter campaign, claiming that it is “unarguable” under the Equality Act and “serves no practical purpose”.
Despite not conducting an Equality Impact Assessment for its daily coronavirus briefings, the Government still insists
‘the briefings are fair and accessible to everyone’.
Their bid to stop the court case failed however, when earlier this month February 2020, a High Court judge granted permission for the judicial review to go ahead.
No date has been set yet for the review, but we will be sure to follow up in a future blog post! Watch this space!
@BorisJohnson @10DowningStreet Will there be space for a #bsl interpreter in this media room? Considering the #wherestheinterpreter campaign during the Covid pandemic, which has been ignored, accommodating an interpreter would help equality for the UK’s incredible #Deaf community
Steve via Twitter
Do we reckon this was all to facilitate sign language interpretation?
York Disability week via Twitter
Now I’m expecting to see real life #BSL interpreters in this new media briefing room at @10DowningStreet #WhereIsTheInterpreter @jerseysnail 💪🙌
Vicky Foxcroft, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, made history at PMQs with a question in sign language.
The shadow minister for disabled people first asked her question (“Why no interpreter in-room briefings, why is this not sorted?”) in Sign Language, leaving the Prime Minister unable to understand her.
Foxcroft added: “If the Prime Minister doesn’t understand, imagine how those who rely on British Sign Language feel at his press briefings: £2.6m spent on the new press room, yet still no interpreter. What message does he think this sends to disabled people?”
“I really just want to see this sorted out now,” the shadow minister added.
Mr Johnson, who appeared not to understand the question, spluttered: “I’m grateful to the honourable lady and grateful for the way she has set out her question.
My name is Joanne Woodhouse-Roberts. I am Profoundly deaf and a BSL user. I live with my teenage son and my deaf husband.
I grew up in London and I played the violin from the age of 7 to 16. I also played the drums and dabbled in the piano now and again during my teenage years. Music has always been something that I have enjoyed, of course being profoundly Deaf, I can’t hear everything but I enjoy it in my own way. I loved watching ‘Top of the Pops’ with the subtitles, the lyrics fascinated me and loved reading the Smash Hit magazines and read the lyrics as a teenager.
During lockdown in the summer months of 2020, I had been following Lynn Stewart- Taylor with the #WTI campaign and I supported Lynn and the campaign 100% and I donated money to the campaign.
I think I gave something like £20 but somehow this didn’t feel enough for me, I felt I could/should do more. At the time I was part of a BSL choir, which reminded me of how much I enjoyed signing along to songs.
Some of the lyrics will appeal to hearing people simply because of the confusion of lockdown rules! I felt if I could write a song and create a choir and get as many deaf people, hearing people, BSL interpreters and children involved – our voices/signing would be heard and be seen. I felt it would raise awareness of the need for an interpreter at these important briefings and equally raise money along the way for the campaign.
When I wrote the song, I tried to think of how my song would translate into BSL, as I feel not every song can be translated in BSL/SSE. Sometimes, the meaning of a song can be lost in a BSL/SSE translation. I was careful with my lyrics, and made sure that they were meaningful and could be translated into signs that would be creative and make an impact and related to Covid 19, to the lockdown and the deaf community.
For example one line in the song is, “put our friend in the same room and let them sign 2 meters from you”.
Our ‘friend’ is the ‘BSL interpreter’ and that interpreter needs to be in the same room as Boris and another line, ”Let us follow you in real time just like our neighbours and hearing friends do”. Our ‘neighbours’ means everyone, those who live next door to us but also those that live in Wales, Scotland and Ireland as they have access to a BSL interpreter during their Covid briefings, and of course ‘real time’ means we receive the same information in parallel with hearing viewers, in the same way our neighbours in Wales, Scotland and Ireland do. I completed my song on the 15th October 2020. I decided to be brave bold and go for it. I decided I would ‘self fund’ the choir, and project – manage it.
I contacted Liv Austen who is a talented artist/musician to see whether she would be willing to be part of the project and sing the lyrics.
Liv was very supportive and she willingly accepted my invitation. Liv recorded the lyrics and she created the music to accompany the song, and of course it is absolutely beautiful.
Liv did a fantastic job and she also joined the choir along with everyone else and she learned the BSL signs too, if you look carefully you will spot her signing! I am so grateful for all Liv’s support, without her none of this would have been possible.
Although I can sign and have been signing for many years and been part of signing choirs and also been a BSL tutor for 12 years. I felt that it should be someone impartial and a professional who should lead the choir and teach the choir the signs for the song. I was very pleased when Fletch@ came on board.
Fletch@ taught the choir via Zoom on 3 occasions. It took some thinking as to how it would work, as we wanted to be sure that we could deliver to 90 people via Zoom. Fletch@ did an amazing job as I don’t think she had ever taught 90 people at once on zoom before! It was also a learning curve for me, to get my head around Zoom!
When I started the choir, I was hopeful of getting around 20 people to join.
I never imagined that this would attract 90 people in the choir! It has been a busy few months, it’s been a learning curve. Having 90 people made the project a huge task. I often joked the emails were coming in faster than I could get them out!
Yes, there is no doubt I have made mistakes along the way and yes I have had to apologise for those mistakes but the next day, I didn’t repeat them and I carried on learning!
We did our sessions over Zoom in October and they were good fun. We had Sam Calder-Bray from Drummer TV join us on one occasion to do a short recording for Drummer TV. And Fletch@ did a fabulous job being the choir leader.
Lynn Stewart- Taylor and Liv joined us on Zoom also, you will see the result of their excellent work on the video. We also had Ann as co host on Zoom from Kakou who helped hugely with dealing with the technical side of Zoom, and I … Well I did the presenting!
I had a few members of my family who also joined us on Zoom. They’ve never signed before, so it was a real joy to see everyone come together over Zoom in lockdown!
Once we’d completed our 3 sessions with Fletch@ the choir had a couple of weeks to practice for their videos at home before they sent the finished clip.
Ann from Kakou was involved in creating the final edited version. She was responsible for the huge task of bringing the choir together. I didn’t think we would get very many videos, as experience tells us that not everyone enjoys filming themselves.
“To everyone’s credit, they went above and beyond and we received 67 videos!”
The videos were mainly sent either via ‘WeTransfer’, ‘WhatsApp’. I had to forward these on to Ann and again the sheer number of videos took us by surprise.
I salute Ann who has created an amazing video and who has so much patience! I shall be forever thankful to her. For Ann and I it was a learning curve and we had to take each day as it came! And now it gives me great pleasure to release the final video of all the choir signing ” Give Us a Sign”.
I hope this video will be shared as much as possible, amongst family, friends, social media and more. It is my wish for each and everyone of you to share this video, this is what I have worked hard for!
Finally, I also hope this inspires the younger Deaf generation to be brave, bold and create something beautiful. I have had the most wonderful journey and I want to thank each and everyone of you who accompanied me on this amazing journey, without you nothing would have been possible!
Thank you everyone for your great generosity! We, at #WTI, greatly appreciate your donations, and your sacrifice. Your support helps to challenge the UK government. This is not only for our generation but for future deaf sign language generations, to protect and promote equality and parity to information.
Weʼre raising £20,000 to challenge the UK government. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought discrimination to Deaf people. This needs to be addressed urgently.
Lack of British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters during the COVID pandemic has led to legal cases being brought against the government. We are not giving up. On social media platforms, the campaign has been gaining some real momentum over the past couple of months, we have been posting regular reminders and posters onto social media platforms to ensure we don’t get forgotten about!
Lynn Stewart-Taylor, the founder of #WhereIsTheInterpreter campaign and its supporters are raising awareness and understanding of the importance of British Sign Language for the deaf community. These should be on platform, live briefings, at any time for any announcement, but especially throughout the pandemic.
Your support is invaluable to us, thank you again!