It is critical for everyone to be informed of the important guidelines that we need to follow when there is a global pandemic and it is a life and death situation.
Unfortunately, deaf people are not informed as adequately as they should be.
Even though there are government guidelines to be followed when they do their live emergency broadcasting, deaf/Deaf sign language users tend to be forgotten about.
Hence why the hashtag #WhereIsTheInterpreter, originally started by Lynn Stewart-Taylor, has been trending in the UK to do something about this.
You can watch the video…
…listen to the podcast…
…or read the full transcript below.
Right now, with everything that’s going on with the global pandemic that we’re going through, you might think it’s important that everyone needs to be informed of the news, of the emergency announcement, of all the guidelines that we have to follow, of the government broadcasting.
You might think that we all need to be informed, don’t we? Everyone needs to be aware of what’s going on.
The thing is, this is not always the case, which makes it a bigger problem when it quite literally means the difference between life and death.
What is #WhereIsTheInterpreter Campaign & Why It’s Important?
Right now, in the UK, there is a hashtag trending on Twitter called #WhereIsTheInterpreter, originally started by Lynn Stewart-Taylor, and she’s part of a Deaf community.
She started that to talk about why are the government, when they’re broadcasting those big news, breaking news or important information, why are they not having interpreters with them to make sure that deaf people are aware and they’re able to access the information as well? So, #WhereIsTheInterpreter.
And of course, as a result, because it’s literally true, when you don’t see any interpreter there, at least in the UK, the Deaf community has spoken up, people have spoken up.
🇬🇧 I feel ashamed discriminated and mistreated unfairly. There is 87,000 deaf BSL users are suffering and concerned! We want to #ProtectTheNHS but it’s not accessible to understand what to do @10DowningStreet @BorisJohnson https://t.co/4b76nU35Kb pic.twitter.com/y8QoyNUxbp— Lynn Stewart-Taylor (@jerseysnail) March 30, 2020
In the UK, when there are approximately 87,000 BSL, British Sign Language users, it’s quite important, don’t you think, for them to be informed of these very, very important news, advice, stories, all of it.
So even though there are those emergency announcements on TV with the prime minister or some kind of important person, leading figures in politics or in medical or any kind of news announcement like that, there are no interpreters.
And even with a petition that has went around and it’s been signed by, at the time of recording, over 15,000 people to encourage the government make sure there are interpreters for the immediate and all future emergency broadcasts… Even though that has been going around and the government is supposed to respond to petitions after 10,000 signatures, at the time of recording we still haven’t heard anything from them and still, #WhereIsTheInterpreter?
Because they’re not there.
Of course, there are a bit of anger and frustration by deaf people towards the government, and I agree with them, because I don’t think it’s too much of an ask, not really a big request, I think it’s kind of a basic, standard thing, call it human rights, to have access to those crucial, crucial information about those guidelines of what we need to do now, what we need to do next.
So it’s very important, so I’m not surprised that deaf people and people around the deaf community, they have spoken up. But still, we’re not seeing what the government are supposed to be doing, at least in the UK.
Most of the time, what I’m seeing is England, really, is having this problem but the government in Scotland and Wales is not bad actually, they’re actually doing it. Northern Ireland, I’m not really sure.
But I don’t know about the rest of the world. If you know, if you have any opinion about that, I’d love to know your comments, let me know.
But at least what I’m seeing right now in England, there are no interpreters when they are doing those live government broadcasting.
Lack of Interpreters is Not the Only Problem
It’s not just the news as well, because what I’m seeing is, on social media, when you see those video snippets, you know those videos that are like maybe 60 seconds long or a few minutes long and they share it on social media just to get that important information, I’m seeing so many of them not captioned at all.
And that’s another problem, probably a separate problem, because I always talk about the importance of having equal access to content.
Most of the time I talk about the YouTube videos or all these videos that you see on websites that are not captioned at all or maybe not having any interpreter, and even though those videos are not life and death, you may get away with it, but it’s still important to have it because we should have access to it.
But it’s completely different when it’s a live government broadcasting about something that is so important, life and death situation; that’s essential.
And even though you’ve seen government, they’re not doing their part, and now I’m seeing the general media publications, the newspapers and TV, when they are publishing videos, they’re not captioning them at all, and that’s a big problem.
But I don’t want to focus on the captioning side of things because, really, I want to focus on #WhereIsTheInterpreter because it’s a major problem for tens of thousands of people in the UK and potentially the rest of the world as well.
Why Do I (and We Should All) Care about #WhereIsTheInterpreter?
Some people might be thinking, “Why do (or should) I care? I don’t need interpreters because I’m not a sign language speaker, user, I don’t need it, I can get by without it.”
I need captions, that’s more important for me. But why is this (hashtag) important for me? Well, because I think it’s right, I think it’s only fair that they have those information, they have those access.
So I care about that and it’s important for me that I share their sentiments, I help them to get that encouragement, help them to talk about #WhereIsTheInterpreter, so of course it’s important that they should have access to these content.
At the same time, though, I think it’s important for me to speak up and educate people to make them understand that, yes, we can maybe read the news elsewhere, maybe you can read the articles elsewhere or maybe you can access those content after the live broadcasting.
But I have two problems with that.
The first is if you are watching the live broadcasting, the live video, and you have access for them and you want it and you need it there and then, well then surely it’s not just your right but everyone else should have equal rights to watch the same thing that you’re watching, which would be live broadcasting or even the news.
At the same time, you need to remember that for those who are sign language users, that’s their first language. So if they need to be informed of important news it’s better that it comes to them in their chosen, preferred language.
So imagine for you, if you have learned another language, maybe you’ve learned it in high school, and you’ve been asked to be notified about important government guidelines and it’s going to be in your second language, you wouldn’t like that, would you?
But this same thing applies here.
So yes, maybe some sign language users can read about it, but there will be a situation where there are misinterpretations because it’s not their first language.
So of course, it’s important for them to have interpreters. It’s only fair and it’s only right that they have that. It does make we wonder, what is it like across the world, and again, if you know, let me know in the comments.
I’d love to share your experience and get to know what happens across the world during a pandemic or global emergency. Are there interpreters beside those government bodies, leaders, you know, anybody talking there, are there interpreters standing beside them?
And is it remote or is it literally on stage? I don’t know because I couldn’t see it, apart from maybe, I’ve seen a case in New York and Ireland, I’ve seen interpreters there, but apart from that I need to know more information.
So let me know if that is something that you are seeing in your part of the world as well.
Mocking Interpreters Doesn’t Help
But unfortunately, when all of it’s happening, if there are interpreters, and whether it’s during government broadcasting or any other television programme, YouTube videos, whatever it is, it tends to be mocked at, and I have seen some videos where people are mocking the interpreters.
People don’t think about how those who require sign language interpreters in this current climate will actually do their bit and save YOUR life too.— Ahmed Khalifa (@IamAhmedKhalifa) March 18, 2020
Right not, equal access to content is literally a matter of life and death for everyone.
It’s not a source of entertainment. https://t.co/g22i364MZ1
And even celebrities like Jeremy Clarkson, he kind of mocked it, and in way encouraged the conversation about, “What the hell is this interpreter saying?” “Look at that facial expression.”
And that makes things really difficult and that makes things really frustrating.
And I can imagine, for those who depend on interpreters and are sign language speakers, it must be so frustrating for you. It must be so annoying when people are mocking them.
But then my message is, for anyone who’s mocking interpreters, at the end of a day, during the situation like a pandemic, these interpreters are going to save you, even if you are a hearing person, even if you don’t need interpreters, don’t forget that it’s going to affect you as well.
Because the interpreters are providing information to deaf people and those deaf people will be able to follow the guidelines that will protect themself and to protect you.
So if you imagine those deaf people and you spend time around them or you are around them without knowing and they were not informed and maybe they have passed on, like, a virus to you because they were not informed and there were no interpreters, well then that’s a problem.
And that’s why if you keep thinking about mocking them, well then it’s going to affect you in the long run as well as the deaf people.
What Can We Do & Think About?
So make sure you think about that when are seeing them and you think it looks fun, it’s a sort of entertainment, it’s not. It’s literally, in this situation, lifesaving. It is a life and death situation. It’s going to affect everybody and that includes anybody who is thinking about mocking them as well.
I hope this makes sense and it’s a serious situation, and if you think about it, in a time where we are self-isolating yourself, it’s even more important to be informed of the news.
So think about those situation, and I have talked about, where we are in a social environment, in a restaurant or dinner table, you feel isolated from conversation, people who are talking.
And it’s hard enough as it is then.
Why Anxiety (& Loneliness) is a Major Problem for Deaf People?
Anxiety and loneliness is likely to increase during uncertain times, such as global pandemic
But in a time where we are self-isolating and we are not be able to be informed of the news because they are not captioned or there’s no interpreter, well that’s even more scary and you are more isolated than ever before.
So that’s not really something that I think should be funny and it should be something that I hope people will take seriously.
Even if you’re a hearing person, make it aware, check out the hashtag #WhereIsTheInterpreter, read about it, learn more about it and why it’s important, and hopefully you can get involved and help and make sure that the government are providing interpreters, especially during those emergency broadcasting.
Like I said, you might be self-isolating yourself, and it’s difficult, isn’t it? If you are doing that and you’re staying at home, it’s difficult being cut off from the world. Well it’s a lot worse for deaf people.
So I hope that will make you think about it and understand better. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments down below. If I can’t answer them, I’ll pass it on to the right person, like Lynn, who has started #WhereIsTheInterpreter.
We are all there to share information.
And of course, while you’re at it, make sure you hit the subscribe button. It helps to get more people aware of this important information as well.
In the meantime, I will speak to you again soon.
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