Two coronavirus news conferences in the past nine days have come without a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter on the government’s social media channels – a service which they have recently started to provide themselves.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson takes to the podium in Downing Street. In terms of access to the Deaf community, the conference comes with BSL interpretation on the BBC News Channel – something which activists have challenged, instead calling for it to be on BBC One or for an in-person interpreter to be provided.
What has been trickier in recent days, however, is the availability of a BSL interpreter on the Government’s social media channels, which The Limping Chicken recently revealed that the UK Government would start paying for themselves. Yet, I understand that in two instances in the past eight days, this has not happened, with the provision being marred by technical issues.
Boris Johnson’s conference on 26 January came without BSL access on social media, though it was fixed a day later after approaching Number 10 for comment. It didn’t last long though, with a spokesperson telling this website today that a failure to provide social media access on Wednesday was “down to a similar technical issue that we are working urgently to resolve”.
While the press office did not respond to further questions on specific information about the technical error, and whether it was down to No. 10 being unable to secure an interpreter in time, I understand that Wednesday’s problem did not arise from a lack of an interpreter or personnel issues.
Photo: Pippa Fowles/No. 10 Downing Street/Flickr.