Compensation for lack of BSL at Covid briefing

Image shows a woman in a coffee shop wearing a transparent mask signing to two customers at the tablesA deaf woman has won a high court ruling against the UK government over the lack of British Sign Language interpreting at official Coronavirus briefings in England.

Self-employed actor and writer, Katie Rowley, brought the action against Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove. She claimed that the government had breached its obligations to make broadcasts accessible to deaf people under equality legislation.

Originally, the government refuted the claims saying BSL interpreters were offered by the news channels carrying to Covid broadcasts. However, Rowley focussed on briefings in September and December 2020 where BSL wasn’t available as part of the broadcast.

The judge ruled in her favour and will award compensation.

Similar briefings by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford included interpreters in the room.

Health information not accessible to BSL users

A report by Disability Rights UK (DRUK) in December 2020 found that through the pandemic the majority of health information provided by the government has not been in BSL.

A survey by DRUK of BSL users in England and Wales found that 64% feared for their health because the information is inaccessible, 58% said that they look outside of the government for information, and 77% of individuals said that they had found it challenging to find government-sponsored information on rules during the pandemic.

There are around 151,000 BSL users across the UK, of which 87,000 are Deaf, according to the British Deaf Association.

Tech help for Deaf and hard of hearing individuals

AbilityNet is hosting a webinar in September 2021 which will explore how technology can support people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

The webinar will feature Lloyds Bank and Microsoft talking about how they’re making services available to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. We’ll also hear from Signly, which helps Deaf customers self-serve on the web using BSL.

In addition, RNID will share tips on assistive technology and devices.

Register for the FREE webinar

How AbilityNet can help