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Conservatives set for U-turn after criticism from Gloucestershire deafness charity for not providing manifesto in British Sign Language – Gazette Series

Thursday, 1 June, 2017

Conservatives set for U-turn after criticism from Gloucestershire deafness charity for not providing manifesto in British Sign Language – Gazette Series

THE Conservatives are set to complete a further U-turn after coming under fire from a Gloucestershire deafness charity and other campaigners for failing to provide their manifesto in British Sign Language.

Independent deaf news blog The Limping Chicken reported that a voter had received an email from the Conservative Party telling her that it will not be translating their manifesto into BSL due to ‘time constraints’.

It is important to note that Ukip have also not provided a BSL manifesto.

A Tory spokesman did however state that the manifesto would be provided in audio, easy read, large, and Braille formats.

In her reply, the voter expressed her disappointment, pointing out: “The 'time constraints”' were hardly forced upon the Conservative Party – the election was called by your own leader.”

However, the party’s website now says that a BSL version of the manifesto ’will be available soon’, with a week left until polls close.

Jenny Hopkins, Gloucestershire Deaf Association (GDA) chief executive, said: “We see through our TV news channels every day how other countries, and most notably America, now fully recognise the importance of ensuring deaf people receive important communication through sign language.

“I am delighted to learn this morning that following a concerted campaign by deaf people around the UK, the Tories are now going to produce a British sign language version of their manifesto.

“I would hope all the major parties consider the votes of people who are deaf and/or disabled to be important.

“We all talk about the need for accessibility, it also should be seen in practice.”

The current lack of a British Sigh Language (BSL) translation sets the Conservative Party and Ukip apart from the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party, who both have BSL manifestos, while the Labour party has released a signed video from MP Dawn Butler.

There are currently 11 million people with some degree of hearing loss in the UK, one in six of the population.

National charity Action on Hearing Loss (AHL) told our reporter that the charity has worked with the Electoral Commission on accessible information and ensuring that polling station staff have disability training and that, if they are in place, induction loops are turned on and staff know how to use them.

If there are debates, AHL will call for signed version of the broadcast to be available as quickly as possible afterwards and for broadcasts to be subtitled.

AHL has asked each party to committee to an accessible easy-read and BSL translation or summary of their manifesto in BSL – which the Conservative party declined to provide.

For the Lib Dem’s BSL manifesto click here, for the Green Party’s BSL manifesto click here and for the Labour Party’s BSL manifesto highlights video click here.

Both Stroud Conservative MP candidate Neil Carmichael and the Conservative’s national press office have been approached for comment.


Source: Conservatives set for U-turn after criticism from Gloucestershire deafness charity for not providing manifesto in British Sign Language - Gazette Series

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