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BBC NEWSNIGHT - 20th August 2012

20 August 2012

We understand that BBC Newsnight will include a short news article about the Ukrainian Virtual Reality Gloves, this evening at 10.30pm (Monday 20th August). A BDA representative was interviewed by BBC Newsnight adn our statement is below:

Statement from BDA on Ukrainian Virtual Reality Gloves

20th August 2012

The British Deaf Association (BDA) is concerned about this development for two reasons.

The first is that any sign language is far more linguistically complex and sophisticated than just a pair of hands. The gloves cannot convey what is on the face, on the lips, and how the signs are given meaning in different locations. The gloves may help with simple gestures but not sign language.

The second is that it obscures the reality that many Deaf people face a lack of access to essential services and are disadvantaged in employment due to widespread prejudice. Virtual Reality Gloves will not counter those issues and may indeed set back our long fight for equal rights by giving people a false notion that these gloves will solve the problem.

What we would welcome is more development of Video Relay Services and Video Relay Interpreting. This enables Deaf people using BSL to have direct and immediate access using smart phones or laptops with webcams.

Facts and Figures

Access to education
UK Government data shows that at Key Stage 2 in 2011, 55% of deaf children did not achieve the expected level for Key Stage English and Maths. 64% did not achieve the expected level for the 3 Rs at Key Stage 2.

The attainment gap between hearing children without special educational needs and deaf children was 43%. The gap between deaf children and all children (including those with special needs) was 29%.

Access to public services
A survey by RNID found that:

  • 46% of people reported they were unable to interact with their public services “all the time” or “often” due to the lack of language and communication access services available;
  • 32% reported that their public service provider did not know how to book language and communication access services, while 51% reported that their service providers did not meet the cost of providing language and communication access services.”

Access to employment
According to the Labour Force Survey the employment rate amongst people with hearing impairments is 68%, significantly lower than the employment rate for non-disabled (81%)Smith A, and Twomey B, Labour market experiences of people with disabilities, Labour Market Trends, August 2002

Access to health services
Association of Sign language Interpreters survey 2011

  • 48% of respondents have been unhappy with the standard of sign language interpreter provided at a health appointment, suggesting that Deaf people are not always being provided with registered, fully qualified, interpreters.
  • 41% of respondents have left a health appointment feeling confused about their medical condition, because they couldn’t understand the sign language interpreter, suggesting that Deaf people are not always being provided with registered, fully qualified, interpreters.