Thursday, 28 May 2020

New Zealander's got better access than us?



Good on New Zealand supporting their deaf community signers.  

Unfortunately, we didn't read what support they offered to the deaf who do not sign or even the hard of hearing there.  Like the UK they don't really exist I suppose, a penalty for being literate.



The New Zealanders seem to have swallowed UK BSL hype regarding lack of supported sign updates, [which wasn't actually true].  The UK has 4 autonomous regions each responsible for its own area, and allegedly (!) following a unity course and approach to battle the COVID virus.

As regards to lack of sign access, Boris Johnson had live BSL interpretation for the very first public broadcast he made regarding the virus on March 18th, [and before he succumbed to it himself].  In order to protect the head of government and its ministers at Number 10 Downing Street, it was decided not to put the BSL terp or the government representatives, at potential risk of infection in what was a smaller room.  

This is STILL the case as interpretation is done remotely, where prior to the interpretation (Also done remotely) was put on the BBC news channels afterwards instead.  This has been an established norm on the BBC News channel for the BSL user for years.  The difference only being updated sign broadcasts are at a different time (but still daily).  The other regions also broadcast at differing times to avoid area updated transmissions clashing.

Some regions were seen with a terp in the same room, this triggered claims England hadn't done that, so discrimination claims ensued.  However regional updates consist of only ONE person in the room where government/England live updates have 2 or 3 so not practical in one room at Number 10 to include another one (The BSL Terp).  Boris was also infected so health and safety kicked in as regards to BSL terp inclusions.

There were also concerns the BSL interpreter would be unable to effectively live translate everything given a large amount of technical slides, statistical information, medical jargon, and remote questioning that was taking place.    The BSL terp does have its limitations.

As we know BSL hasn't the dictionary, or many deaf the knowledge, to follow all that detail in a 15-minute update, not all hearing do either, details were expanded on for them afterwards in more simplistic a format and at greater length.  Like the hearing all you get really is edited highlights on any news broadcast.

As ATR stated there emerged dozens of deaf charities/individuals taking to the online area including SignHealth etc who assist in explaining the detail a BSL terp was not really able to convey on those live updates, discriminations never really existed.  There was a query that remained unanswered in that the two deaf TV BSL programs of SEE HEAR and BSL ZONE did not step up its support and coverage at all which the channels are designed to do for the UK's BSL  deaf population.  It was their time to justify their output and they didn't do that.

BSL terps rarely go into detail live, there isn't the time. As an aside most UK interpreters of BSL do not possess the specialist knowledge or training to explain details and BSL has limitations itself via lack of signs.  Some Interpreters do train for specific translating areas (E.G. Law, or mental health etc), but most don't.  The UK barrage of statistics would baffle most mathematicians, the political response, even more of a lottery!  

In doing a national broadcast, regional sign variations, learning difficulties etc all mean it gets pretty simplistic to appeal to the most.  

The prime access was subtitling, we doubt any deaf missed much.  More people speak polish and Urdu in the UK than BSL but they got nothing.  It's an anomaly the deaf seem unable to adapt as migrants have to.

The deaf approach to the virus has been one of claiming poor access and neglect, it's a perennial issue and they object by rote or habit regardless, but the real issue is a lack of understanding how their own communication works in the hearing environment, or, how effective their language is in doing that. 

Some responded by demanding the removal of protective equipment from the Drs and Nurses so they could lip-read, which raised a few eyebrows,  although few deaf rely on that except to assist the sign, they rely mostly on sign language and lip-reading would have been all they got, by people who aren't trained to lip-speak, so this would not have addressed BSL access issues.

A lot of deaf failed to utilise online access (or as we know many older deaf are not even online at all), or knew where the televised access was.  If there was an error it was clearly the fact BBC TV and other media had failed to put any links up as to where it was. Access was there, the deaf and government failed to move quick enough to tell anyone.  Regions still have a live terp, England doesn't it's 'in-vision', because it updates differently and in far more detail it being central government.

New Zealand boasted 100s of languages used but did not on their TV updates provide access for hardly any of them either.  It isn't practicable.  The UK/USA deaf are still getting the 'Lion's Share' of live update access by comparison, be happy OK?

"As we emerge from the last of lockdown and begin to look beyond our borders again, let’s not forget the vital role language skills play in strengthening our economic, political and cultural connections to the rest of the world, writes Sally Hill. This week is Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa – Samoan Language Week – and despite the restrictions of Level 2 many people are finding innovative ways to celebrate the richness of our third most widely-spoken language. 

Others will be aware that this is also International Languages Week, “an opportunity to showcase, learn, and promote the diverse languages and cultures in our schools, communities, and nation”. Yet, with our borders closed to the rest of the world, some might question the relevance of international languages to the challenges we currently face. And unfortunately within those borders even the importance of all our official languages is not universally recognised. But the Covid-19 crisis has in fact vividly demonstrated the ongoing and increasing importance of translation, multilingualism and intercultural communication in Aotearoa New Zealand. Within our unique bicultural setting, more than 160 languages are spoken. 

Over the past couple of decades, New Zealand’s linguistic and cultural diversity has increased to the point that we are now one of a small number of nations identified as “superdiverse”. This means fast access to accurate and up-to-date official information in multiple languages about a threat like Covid-19 is essential, particularly for potentially vulnerable communities. The World Health Organisation has long noted that “[l]anguage can be a barrier to accessing relevant and high-quality health information and delivering appropriate health care”. Numerous studies have shown poor intercultural communication in healthcare settings can have devastating consequences, and – especially in stressful situations – even people relatively fluent in the dominant language benefit from access to clear, reliable health information in their own language. 

While minority language communities in the UK lamented the lack of translations of crucial health information, and in the US the Trump administration ordered immigration judges to remove bilingual Spanish and English Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coronavirus advice posters from court buildings, New Zealand saw rapid moves across a number of agencies and organisations to ensure speakers of languages other than English were able to access key COVID-related information. "

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