It’s vital that organisations make their documents and resources accessible to Deaf BSL users, but I’ve never seen anything like this before.
Ofsted’s inspection of adoption support agencies earlier this year included a downloadable document to get the responses of Deaf children and young people.
The document (which ironically, boasts adherence to the Plain English Campaign with the slogan: ‘Committed to clearer communication’) doesn’t offer Deaf children a video of a real, live British Sign Language version of the questions they’re asked to respond to, as you might expect.
Instead it uses ‘BSL symbols’ to get its message across. Take a look…
Producing ‘BSL symbols’ does not equate to making this information accessible in BSL, but Ofsted presumably think it does, because they’ve given the sentences a BSL structure, as seen below:
Images of this type are usually seen in books aimed at learners of BSL , who would spend a while looking at images like this before working out how the sign is supposed to look.
This isn’t a typical way of communicating information to Deaf children and young people and nor should it be. It’d take an age to figure out which sign each image equates to, and therefore to read a document. More importantly, they should be able to understand the questions in their primary language. The actual living, breathing, 3D, physical, visual language that is BSL.
I would love to know who advised Ofsted that this was a way of including Deaf children in the consultation, because the reality here is that they weren’t really included at all.
The worst forms of access are those that seem, on the surface, to offer access, while in reality, they fall a long way short. This falls into that category.
With thanks to @Deaf on Twitter for tweeting this.
By Charlie Swinbourne
The Limping Chicken is supported by Deaf media company Remark!, training and consultancy Deafworks, provider of sign language services Deaf Umbrella, the National Deaf Children’s Society’s Look, Smile Chat campaign, and the National Theatre’s captioned plays.
The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
Please note that the views of the writers are their own, and not necessarily the views of the Editor or site as a whole. Read our disclaimer here.
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. How to make Live Automated Captions with Apple’s Latest 'Clips' App
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- Hearing Direct: Online hearing aids
- Signature: Leading awarding body for BSL qualifications
- Signworld: Learn BSL online!
- Cast Theatre, Doncaster: The UK's the UK’s first fully BSL integrated pantomime
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Ozen: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- deafPLUS: BSL advice helpline
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children
- Royal Shakespeare Company: Captioned and BSL interpreted performances (see dates here)
- Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Residential education for deaf children
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Deaf Independent: Deaf care and support services
- Performance Interpreting: BSL interpreting at concerts
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- cSeeker: Deaf-led educational communication support service
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- Sign Solutions:, language and learning
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people