Deaf News: Paralympics director Jenny Sealey backs Access to Work Campaign

Posted on March 14, 2014

Jenny Sealey, Creative Director of the Paralympic Games opening ceremony and Artistic Director of Theatre Company Graeae, is backing the ‘Stop Changes to Access to Work Campaign‘ by becoming its spokesperson.

In a video posted on the campaign’s website, Sealey explains why proposed changes to the scheme are wrong and how, if introduced prior to the Paralympics, would have scuppered her ability to work on the opening ceremony. Both video and transcript are below. The campaign’s website said people could expect to ‘hear a lot from Jenny soon’.

The campaign was launched after the government proposed changes to Access to Work, a system that funds communication support for employed deaf people. The changes, according to the campaign, limit the choice of working deaf people to choose the best interpreter or communication method for different scenarios by forcing organisations to employ a single interpreter if more than 30 hours a week are required.

Jenny Sealey on Access to Work

A petition launched in November has gained 4,900 signatures and meetings have taken place between leading charitable organisations and politicians but the ‘thirty-hour rule’ remains. 

Transcript of the video: 

I just want to talk about Access to Work without that provision, I couldn’t do my job, it’s fundamental to being Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre.

Access to Work is amazing, it’s so brilliant to have that, when we were doing the Paralympics, I had a team of 14 or 15 fully highly qualified interpreters working amongst, I think there were 10 deaf people, plus me, and I had my own core team of three. Without that skill, that knowledge and everything, we would never, ever have been able to do such a glorious Paralympics and for all those deaf people to have full and equal access.

What I need in my job is so varied, I go from rehearsals, to budget meetings, to board meetings, to networking, working in schools, it’s so varied so I’m very, very aware, I carefully pick which interpreters I need for which jobs and to be forced to have one interpreter, just in the office.

That’s giving me just one voice, one interpretation, all the way through my working life… That’s not going to work for someone like me, and there’s many, many other deaf people that I know, that same style will not work for them either.

My interpreters need to be cast, I suppose, in the same way that I cast my plays. So I have the right person for my budget meetings, you know, an interpreter that knows and understands finance.

I have the right interpreter when I’m working in schools that understands the school environment. I want, I need, and have to be allowed choice, and that is the same for other deaf people. Also, we need to have fully qualified high spec interpreters, not, you know, a baby CSW because that’s wrong, and that means we’re not getting full and equal access. So please, please, we have to have choice, skill, and qualified interpreters. We need that.

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