The effect of COVID-19 on the deaf and hearing impaired

The government is currently facing a lawsuit, following a lack of support for the British deaf community.

Since the lockdown started the Government have been holding daily briefings, broadcasted online and on television, designed to keep the country informed on the current situation.

Yet, the UK’s deaf and hearing-impaired community have criticised the Government for failing to provide sign language interpreters during the broadcasts.

The Government responded stating that the BBC will provide BSL interpreters for broadcasts.

News 24 Channel currently have an interpreter, alongside many other news companies in other countries, but it’s the BBC’s lack of interpreters that has caught the community’s attention.

During PM Boris Johnson’s broadcast on Monday morning, no interpreter was present on the BBC, contradicting the Government’s statement.

What started as comments on Twitter have escalated into legal action taken against the government.

Members of the hearing loss community have been left feeling unsupported during this time due to the lack of interpreters.

Many appointments for tests, hearing aid fittings and routine check-ups have been cancelled, leaving some with no hearing aids at all.

Not only this, but members of the deaf community have taken to social media to express their struggles against the use of protective masks in hospitals.

Whilst they prove useful for protection against the virus, they prove difficult for individuals that rely on lip-reading for communication.

Some have been suggesting adjustments that could be made to resolve this communication barrier. For example, adjusting the design of the masks to make the lips visible.

However, there is no indication, nor conformation, that these changes will happen.

BSL are currently raising money to cover the cost if the case is lost and there are online petitions to make sure all broadcasts have interpreters present.

If you are a member of the hearing impaired, or deaf community and are feeling unsupported and worried, there are many sites available to help including BSL Zone for adults and NDCS for children.

(Image source: Istockphotos royalty free images)

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