On Monday last week (2 March) leading disability spokespeople from the UK’s three main political parties fielded questions from a 200-strong audience at the first ever General Election debate on hearing loss and deaf issues.
The Westminster event, staffed with sign language interpreters, lip speakers and speech-to-text reporters, was organised by charity Action on Hearing Loss in response to the lack of accessible party political information available during previous UK General Elections for the one in six voters across the UK who are deaf or affected by hearing loss.
During the two-hour Hustings, panellists Mark Harper MP, Minister of State for Disabled People, Kate Green MP, shadow disability minister, and Lord Mike German, co-chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Committee for Work and Pensions, answered questions from the floor on topics such as cuts to NHS audiology services, the Access to Work 30-hour rule review and the possibility of legal status for BSL as a minority UK language.
Action on Hearing Loss’s Head of Public Affairs and Campaigns, Rob Burley, said:
“At Action on Hearing Loss we want a world where deafness and hearing loss doesn’t limit or label people. There are 10 million people in the UK with some form of hearing loss and with an ageing population that number is only set to rise, which is why it’s vital that those in government are as committed to this goal as we are.
“With just over 60 days to go until people turn out for the polls, members of the Deaf community and people with hearing loss have had their first ever chance to quiz politicians about the barriers that impact their daily lives and the issues that matter to them most, in a fully accessible way.”
A motion from the debate’s Chair, Guardian health correspondent Denis Campbell, to bring in regulation for high quality TV, TV on demand and cinema subtitles was met with a unanimous show of hands by the audience.
For those who were unable to attend the Deafness and Hearing Loss Hustings, the charity will be sharing a fully accessible video of the event, with in-vision BSL and subtitle provision, to enable as many people as possible to benefit from the debate.
It will be available to view from 13 March at youtube.com/user/actiononhearingloss
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