Being Deaf has become very visual on our TV screens including the programme I dislike Strictly Come Dancing! Too many stereotypes used for me including rather camp ones! Deaf people are employed as actors and presenters on many shows now and have their own TV programmes included on channels such as BSL Sign Zone. But there are many areas where the Deaf feel isolated and not included. Work is one of those areas. 

I am Chaplain to the Deaf in Newcastle Diocese and so spend quite a bit of time with Deaf people. I try to get involved in Campaigns for Deaf Rights including the recent Where is the Interpreter? Campaign .Why is there this Campaign? Well because on the Welsh and Scottish Coronavirus briefings on TV an Interpreter for the Deaf is included at the side whereas on the English briefing there is no interpreter. Why? Perhaps because there is no BSL Act (British Sign Language Act) in England which is another campaign the Deaf are involved in. Scotland is the only country in the UK to give BSL full legal status and to agree to promote its use. … BSL still does not have full legal status in England and Wales and the same is true of BSL and Irish Sign Language (ISL) in Northern Ireland.

In the past Deaf people had many employment opportunities, often it must be said in rather menial tasks but they were employed. Nowadays it is difficult for young Deaf people to get employment. NIBE will be holding an event in November to discuss this and learn from Deaf people about their feelings on ethical employment. The National Deaf Children’s Society is campaigning for more help from government and employers. The Chancellor announced the Plan for Jobs in July 2020 to try and prevent mass unemployment caused by COVID-19 and the lockdown. But the Plan doesn’t provide anywhere near enough support for deaf young people looking for work. NDCS say: ‘We are urgently campaigning to change this – will you join us?’

Well NIBE is will you?

Glyn Evans – Director NIBE