#WhereIsTheInterpreter

You may have seen via social media platforms, the #WhereIsTheInterpreter campaign has been gaining some real momentum over the past couple of months. The campaign leads have been posting regular reminders onto social media platforms to ensure that the campaign continues gaining strength.

The next major thing on the horizon is the government’s plan to hold daily briefings again, starting in October.  At the moment there is no information regarding if they are planning to provide a ‘live on platform BSL interpreter‘ for these.  Check our post here about how Captions are not a replacement for BSL Interpreters.  Here’s where you come in…!

They are asking that people write to Boris Johnson to request that an interpreter be available for ALL briefings.  If you could include why this is so vital to the Deaf community it could really help. The more letters the government receives asking #WhereIsTheInterpreter and regarding our lack of access, the harder it will become for them to ignore us!

It doesn’t have to be too lengthy or time consuming, but an impactful letter outlining lack of access & barriers to communication & its damaging effects could be really beneficial.

WTI are planning to do a fundraising event to help promote the #WhereIsTheInterpreter campaign further.  And it will bring the community together even more!

Taking inspiration and invaluable support from 2 Deaf Foot.  They are planning to walk from Cardiff to No 10 Downing Street in October! This route has been chosen as we can start in Cardiff.   While here can commend the Welsh government on their excellent accessibility measures for the Deaf community to their COVID briefings.  The plan is then to walk a route to London, with designated stops along the way and get together with the deaf community. They will be joined along the way by a variety of supporters too. Once in London they are planning to have a letter hand delivered to No 10.

Very exciting times for deaf rights, so watch this space!  For more information on #WhereIsTheInterpreter checkout their Facebook page

WhereIsTheInterpreter campaign image

The #WhereIsTheInterpreter campaign started at the peak of the Pandemic in response to the Government not providing British Sign Language interpreting for its public broadcasts. 

Timeline

9 March 2020

Lynn Stewart-Taylor uploaded a video on Twitter, concerned about the Covid- 19 news on BBC1, there was no BSL/English Interpreter for deaf members.  She used the hashtag #WhereIsTheInterpreter.

15 May 2020

The campaign was formally established by Lynn on a Facebook page and there was a lot of interest, which helped the campaign to gain momentum quickly, harnessing the support of the deaf and hearing public.

Here is what a survey found about deaf peoples access to information during the Pandemic:

64% of people we surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that “Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, I have felt worried about my personal health, safety & well-being because of lack of official govt information about COVID-19 in a format that’s accessible to me.”

The campaign started by trying to engage directly with Government to advocate the importance of making these public broadcasts accessible. 
This unfortunately did not have the necessary impact, so the campaign pursued legal action.

21 September 2020

To fund the legal campaign, Lynn worked with Mark Hodgson to walk 200 miles from Cardiff to London.

Mark, had previously walked from John O’Groats to Lands’ End with another deaf man, to raise money for deaf focused Mental Health charities. 

They were aptly named Two deaf foot, and walked in total of 1,200 miles, raising over £62,663.  It took 8 weeks and they arrived at Land’s End on 4 August 2019.

To find out more:
https://www.facebook.com/2DeafFoot/

3 October 2020

Lynn and Mark set out from Cardiff on the planned 200-mile journey to London.

11 October 2020

Victoria and her two children joined Lynn and Mark on the Thatcham to Midgham part of the route.

16 October 2020

Lynn and Mark made it to London!

19 March 2021

The £20,000 target was reached in order to pursue the legal battle.

28 July 2021

The judge agreed that the Government had discriminated against Kate Rowley, as there were two briefings that did not have BSL Interpretation.

This outcome gained huge amounts of media coverage.

16 September 2021

On 1 September 2017, three Deaf mothers took their daughters out for a birthday treat to see Little Mix. They were only able to follow part of the event, as a BSL Interpreter was only provided for the main act (only after issuing an application for an injunction in the County Court) and not the cover acts.

The Little Mix events promoter refused to accept that British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreters were reasonably required, and when challenged with legal action threatened the families with costs liabilities of over £100,000.00.

On September 2021, Judge Avent in the Central London County Court handed down a Judgement, this criticised the behaviour of the LHG Live (the company changed its name to Live in the UK and is owned by Liz Hobbs) and found them guilty of unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act.

The Judgment makes it clear that service providers are required to provide Sign Language Interpreters for Deaf service users.

This judgement adds further weight to the campaign.

10 November 2021

COP 26, Day 11 – finally a BSL Interpreter was provided for COP, but the positioning blocked the Interpreter, which made it difficult for deaf people to access.

Next Steps

1 March 2022

The next part of the legal challenge is a 1-day application hearing at the Circuit Judge at Central London County Court.

276 deaf BSL users have brought discrimination cases against the Cabinet Office for not providing any BSL Interpreters for the first 2 weeks of the Covid pandemic.

Chris Fry is legally representing the 276 Claimants, with Yvette Genn a Barrister from Cloisters Chambers.

Whatever happens in this case, there are two more waves of cases to follow on including no BSL for COP-26 and not enough BSL on Government Broadcasts.