DEAF CITIZENS UNDER THREAT FROM HURRICANE OPHELIA –
FAILURE TO PROVIDE ACCESSIBLE EMERGENCY INFORMATION
Irish Deaf Society (IDS) and the Council of Irish Sign Language Interpreters (CISLI), on behalf of the Irish Deaf community and interpreters, wish to express deep disappointment and annoyance at the National Emergency Coordinating Group / Met Eireann’s failure to alert Deaf Irish Sign Language (ISL) users of the imminent dangers out of Hurricane Ophelia.Neither organisation has followed the growing international trend of using sign language interpreters when holding a public briefing session. This omission puts their lives and property of Deaf Irish citizens in danger. The incident has left us wondering if the State has any concern for the lives and safety of Deaf Irish citizens at all.
We have seen a number of live streaming videos from various media sources, with visual and verbal announcements which can be seen and heard, but for the vast majority of Deaf ISL users, these announcements are inaccessible. Hence we miss out on vital emergency information, which could end up being harmful to us and our dependents.
Were it not for interpreters who have volunteered to translate some of these safety announcements via social media, the situation may have been even worse. We stress how serious and dissatisfactory this situation is. Given literacy issues within the Deaf community after decades of substandard educational provision for Deaf children, it cannot be assumed that all Deaf ISL users have access to such warnings in English.
The ideal situation is for a public body such as the National Emergency Coordinating Group to follow recent examples of interpreters being used in emergency / disaster briefings in the US and Australia, with interpreters being fully visible on the broadcast throughout (see the attached photos).
Coincidentally, it may be well for such public bodies to heed our advice – with the Recognition for Irish Sign Language Bill coming up for its final stages in the Seanad. Within the Bill, public bodies are reasonably expected to provide such interpretation. We do appreciate the severity of red-status warnings, and so we hope this debacle will be a ‘red flag’ to be learnt from for public bodies in the future.
Eddie Redmond CEO – Irish Deaf Society – 087 2345744
Cormac Leonard, chairperson of CISLI – firstname.lastname@example.org 085 1051792