Credit to Eleni Botonaki#WhereIsTheInterpreter logo
COVID -19 pandemic has brought additional disadvantage and discrimination to sign language community in the UK.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional disadvantage and discrimination to sign language community in the UK. Throughout the pandemic, sign language community have had to rely on local organisations and charities to create accessible information and content.
Information on the virus has not been made readily available in BSL and this can be evidenced through the ‘Where is the Interpreter’ campaign, which seeks to address the fact that the Government’s daily briefings were not translated into BSL.
BSL is a rich and complex language with its own grammar and structure. It is not a signed equivalent of English and is, in fact, the first or preferred language of over 125,000 people in the UK.
We are deeply concerned about a growing expectation for Sign language community to access critical information including UK government advice about COVID-19 in a second or third language (English)
The Government has been unique in not providing a British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreter live ‘on platform’ at the Coronavirus Briefings. In fact for the first 9 briefings which were so very critical, there was no BSL Interpreting at all. There’s an interpreter on the BBC News channel, but not everyone can access this, so as you say, it’s not right that it’s not visible on every platform. It’s why sign language community are calling for an in-person interpreter at every briefing, to make them accessible by default.
Westminster – London 16th October 2020