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Despite criticism by the Courts in the case of Katherine Rowley v The Cabinet Office, and 275 compensation cases in the Central London County Court, the UK Government continues not to make national broadcasts accessible to deaf people who use British Sign Language (BSL).

Lynn Stewart-Taylor, who founded the “Where is the Interpreter?” campaign which raised funds for the successful legal case, tuned into watch the Government’s broadcast on 7th September only to find there was no interpreter at all. Again, when tuning in to watch the COP26 announcements she found that there was no interpreter, despite assurances from the Government in the Rowley case that at least in-vision interpreters would be provided where on-platform interpreters were impractical.

“I could not believe that we had been totally ignored again. Sign language people messaged me straight away, including a deaf teaching assistant concerned about the lack of access for sign language children that meant they were unable to follow the COP26 announcements. The government has failed us.

I feel that having come this far, we need to hold the Government to account, and let them know that our rights cannot be ignored. If we don’t fight to change the system, things will continue to be the way they are! So I have taken the decision to bring legal proceedings again, against the Cabinet Office.”

In July this year, the Court took the rare and historic step of declaring that the Cabinet Office had unlawfully discriminated against deaf people who use British Sign Language (BSL) by failing to provide BSL Interpreting for COVID-19 data briefings.

We had all hoped for change, and that the Government would take deaf rights seriously, but remarkably things appear to have got worse. Failing to build BSL into national broadcasts is a failure to recognise the importance of deaf people in our society and I am now building a further legal challenge to bring the case back to the Courts as quickly as possible.

I can now announce that I have begun the pre-action process for Judicial Review against the Government on behalf of Lynn and others who were unable to access the broadcasts.

After supporting the initial case and campaign, the Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD) has pledged its full support, once again. Amanda Casson Webb, Joint Chief Executive, said,

“Earlier this year we welcomed the Court’s ruling that the UK Government had breached the Equality Act when it failed to provide on-platform interpreters for its COVID-19 briefings, marking it as a landmark moment in deaf history.

Like many, we were hopeful for change, and proud of the momentum the WhereIsTheInterpreter campaign galvanised within the deaf community.

The continued failure of the UK Government to make its broadcasts accessible to deaf people is bitterly disappointing.

We are proud to once again, stand by Lynn and our allies in the deaf community to support this legal action so that together, we can ensure that the UK Government fulfils its duty, as defined in the Equality Act – and for deaf BSL users to be fully involved and included in every aspect of life.”

Claims are being brought for compensation as well as policy change, and to register for the case people can complete the following form with BSL Guidance at this link: Join the Legal Action

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