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13th May 2020

Why are there no sign language interpreters at Boris’ press briefings?

Rich Cooper


Why are there no sign language interpreters at national Covid-19 press briefings?

When press briefings are held in Scotland and Wales, a British Sign Language interpreter has been stood a safe two metres away from anyone else, translating what has been for members of the deaf community watching at home.

But at the national press conferences, led by Boris Johnson and his team, there is no interpreter translating the information. Due to the lack of BSL interpreters, deaf people are forced to seek out sources that provide BSL translation, and not all broadcasters do that.

It’s particularly egregious, considering that hundreds of thousands of people watch these conferences online, where automated subtitles are often littered with errors.

We spoke to Rob Geaney, the Head of Public Affairs at Action on Hearing Loss, who explained why the lack of BSL interpreters at Johnson’s press briefings leaves the deaf community out of the conversation, and should be corrected immediately.