Home Business News Political parties under pressure to provide BSL translations

Political parties under pressure to provide BSL translations

by LLB political Reporter
10th Jun 24 8:08 am

A leading disability rights pioneer has launched a campaign to encourage political parties and TV networks to provide British Sign Language (BSL) translations of their broadcasts and manifestos to make sure BSL users have access to vital political information.

The #NoBSLNoVote campaign has already garnered support from leading organisations and figures in the deaf community.

Disability Rights UK, Royal Association for Deaf people, Signature, Action Deafness, Signapse, and Sign Solutions – all of whom have signed an open letter to the main political parties requesting BSL translations of key information.

There are 151,000 people who use British Sign Language (BSL) in the UK, according to the British Deaf Association (BDA) and 87,000 of these are deaf.

The average reading age of a BSL deaf school-leaver is only 9 years, because written English is a second language with an entirely different structure, grammar, and syntax.

This means that for complex information, such as political manifestos and related campaigning, it can be impossible to fully understand for deaf people without a BSL translation.

Disability Discrimination Solicitor at Inspire Legal, Chris Fry, has launched the #NoBSLNoVote campaign to encourage all parties to use BSL interpretation for TV appearances, rallies, conferences, and for their manifestos.

Fry has also drafted a letter people can download and send to their MP or the main political parties to request BSL versions of any political party communications, available on the Inspire Legal website.

Fry comments: “As we gear up for another General Election campaign there is a danger that, once again, the deaf community will be marginalised from political information and manifesto promises.

“We are encouraging any BSL users to use the free template letters we’ve drafted to send to the main political parties to create sufficient pressure that their needs are met in terms of the appropriate translations being made available.

“We will also continue taking legal measures against broadcasters who fail in their legal obligations to provide BSL interpreters for TV events in the build up to the election.”

Having previously won a Judicial Review against the Cabinet Office for failing to provide BSL Interpreters during the Pandemic, and as one of the Shaw Trust Power 100 most influential disabled lawyers in the UK, Fry is regarded as a pioneer in disability discrimination cases, and in deaf issues in particular.

Political parties putting on events to the public, and publishing information are required by law to provide a BSL translation under the Equality Act 2010.

These days, with the advent of accessible AI and other technologies, there is no longer an excuse for failing to provide BSL translations.

The #NoBSLNoVote campaign has been launch in collaboration with AI-based BSL provider Signapse who can quickly and easily translate text into BSL videos online with their innovative software.

Signapse.ai is seen at transport hubs in the UK and works in collaboration with the University of Surrey, the UKRI and key Deaf charities including RAD and Action Deafness.

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