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.