Wednesday, 3 August 2016

deaf people are at a major disadvantage with police...

It's always encouraging to read things are looking up for the sign user, but this usually means no progress at all for HoH, deafened or non-signers, it's time a holistic approach to access was used. 

Simply because a BSL user gets access, doesn't mean others have as well.  If non signers cannot get equality or any priority as a majority in support just because they aren't a 'cultural minority', this is not access, nor is it fair....   BSL deaf are the ONLY UK sector with hearing loss, with a national support set up.

We all have occasions when we need to deal with the police. Perhaps your car has been stolen and you have to report it; or perhaps you have witnessed a mugging and you have been called to the police station to be interviewed and provide a witness statement. 

Or perhaps you have been accused of shoplifting and the security guard has detained you in the back room until the police arrive.  Interacting with the police can be stressful, regardless of whether you are a witness, a victim or a culprit. Most of us have one very useful advantage, however: we can hear. 

Anyone who is deaf and has dealt with the police may have found communication a major problem. Too often, the forces in the UK and elsewhere in Europe struggle to provide sign language interpreters at short notice or even to understand the needs of deaf people. It hampers their access to justice and needs to be addressed urgently.

The first thing to make clear is that we are talking about quite a substantial number of people. The European Union of the Deaf estimates there are approximately a million deaf sign language users in Europe. In the UK, there are estimated to be approximately 70,000 deaf people who use British Sign Language as their first or preferred language.

This is a linguistic and cultural minority group with its own accepted norms of behaviour. And most people probably don’t realise that deaf people use different sign languages in every country around the world. They identify one another on that basis in the same way that a British person might identify a German or Spaniard through the way they talk.............

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