Deaf Academy Students Campaign for Sign Language on TV News at County Hall
Last Thursday, the School Council from Exeter Deaf Academy presented at Devon County Hall Council Chambers.
The deaf students aged between 15-16 years old stood up and delivered a confident presentation to the Chamber in British Sign Language (BSL), articulating the need for regional TV news programmes to be accessible for all, and explained their goal was for the Southwest’s regional TV broadcasters to lead the way for the rest of the UK.
Currently in the UK, live regional TV news programmes do not have live British Sign Language interpretation.
Subtitles and closed captioning don’t offer much help for British Sign Language users when English is not their first language. Subtitles are not in real time, meaning that deaf audiences can find it challenging to follow news stories in the same way as hearing audiences.
Maryam Kamran (16), Vice Chair of the Student Council explained:
“The subtitles we see on live news are often not of a very high standard. Words are misspelled, information missed off and they’re quite often delayed.”
Co-Secretary Nissi Phinehas (15) added:
“Lots of deaf people struggle to understand subtitles because they are too quick… There’s also the additional problem we have in that we’re not reading them in our first language.”
Student Council member Matthew McCauley (15) said:
“We’ve recognised that there’s a disparity between Great Britain and other countries such as America and France. Their TV news always has an interpreter present when there’s important news being broadcast.”
Student Council Co-Secretary Tom Bowden (15) said:
“We have been writing to The Government in London, but we understand they’re busy trying to sort out Brexit. So we have decided to campaign more locally.”
The Deaf Academy’s School Council were accompanied by their School Governor and Teignbridge Councillor, Alistair Dewhirst.
Councillor Dewhirst said:
“I am proud to support these fine young people and their desire to be kept in the loop by our local news broadcasters. They were totally unfazed by the Council Chamber.”
Councillors Debo Sellis, Alan Connett, Kevin Ball and Martin Wrigley also voiced their support saying that it was excellent and commended the students for presenting their campaign to The Chamber so movingly.
Alex Loveridge (16), Student Council Chair, challenged the Councillors to watch the local TV news with the sound turned off to understand how difficult it can be to follow the detail in the stories using subtitles. The students received a round of applause by everyone at Devon County Hall Council Chambers. The motion has now been referred to Cabinet.
The video the Deaf Academy have shared online has been viewed over 6000 times. Shirley-Anne Davies said:
“Well done to all! A great presentation and hopefully it has helped to make people more deaf-aware. I really hope broadcasters take notice and implement changes. You should all be proud of yourselves.”
The next step of the students’ campaign will be reported in the New Year.