Following the Prime Minister’s disappointing response to my direct question to him, I wrote to him making clear the need for a British Sign Language interpreter in the room.

My letter to the Prime Minister:

The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street

29 April 2020

Dear Prime Minister,

Re: Response to your letter regarding in-room BSL interpreters

Thank you for your recent letter, following my question to you during Prime Minister’s Questions on the 14th April.

While I welcome the government working with the BBC on accessible communication, I remain deeply concerned about the lack of British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters present in the press briefing room during your press conferences.

Having spoken to countless disabled people, disabled people’s organisations and charities from across the country, a BSL interpreter imposed on the TV feed is insufficient. While some broadcasters add BSL interpretation, many do not. It is positive that the Cabinet Office makes this option freely available to key broadcasters, but the take-up is not enough.

If the government were to provide an in-person interpreter – as is done during the devolved Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland administration press conferences – disabled people who require BSL would have easy access, regardless of what channel or part of the country they were watching from.

Prime Minister, the message an in-person interpreter in the new £2.6 million press room would send to those disabled people who have been made to feel like afterthoughts by this government would be clear. Ensuring that this space is fully accessible, including to those who use wheelchairs, would further amplify this.

As the global pandemic continues, I ask you to think about how this lack of accessible communication makes disabled people feel. I implore you to act and to finally correct this oversight.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,

Vicky Foxcroft MP
Shadow Minister for Disabled People


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