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BDA Urges Government to Establish Legal Right to Registered Communication Professionals

6 January 2014

After the Mandela sign language fiasco, the British Deaf Association has launched a government e-petition to give deaf people the legal right to support from qualified, registered communication professionals. 

David Buxton, Chief Executive of the British Deaf Association, said:

“The story of the fake sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial struck a chord with deaf people the world over. 

“It is good that the South African authorities tried to make the event accessible to deaf audiences. But the fact that they hired an interpreter who wasn’t up to the job is depressingly familiar.

“Here in the UK, there are too many unqualified interpreters providing a sub-standard service to deaf children and adults. This is damaging deaf people’s wellbeing, education and employment chances.

“In their daily lives, deaf adults and children depend on good communication support from qualified, registered BSL/English interpreters and other communication professionals. Ensuring deaf people are included in all walks of life saves taxpayers’ money by avoiding misdiagnosed illnesses, reducing unemployment, lessening demand on services and by ensuring their ability to contribute to the workplace and the wider community 

“The solution is surprisingly straightforward. Nationally and locally, the government should commit to using only registered communications professionals.

“That means only using sign language interpreters, speech to text reporters, lipspeakers and other communication professionals who are appropriately qualified and also registered with a national regulatory body able to issue sanctions.

“I am delighted that the Ministry of Justice has already pledged to do this. It is time for the rest of government to follow its example.

“We are asking everyone to sign our e-petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/58405  (see BSL video) urging the government to require all public bodies by law to provide a deaf person with a registered communication professional should they require it. If we get 10,000 signatures, the government has to respond formally. If we get 100,000 signatures, we can get a debate in the House of Commons about this.

“Please sign the e-petition to get deaf people the decent communication support they need.”