Jen Dodds: Why UKIP is not a Deaf-friendly party (BSL)

Posted on May 1, 2015

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Jen Dodds

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there’s soon to be an election in the UK.

One thing in particular that I’ve noticed is that lots of Deaf people seem to be voting UKIP (the UK Independence Party), or thinking about it.

To watch this article signed in BSL by Jen Dodds, click play below:

At first, I couldn’t understand why, then I thought about it and it made sense to me: Many Deaf people already feel let down, disenfranchised and insecure about things like the Access to Work cuts, difficulty in getting jobs and problems with benefits etc.

So, who to blame? The Government? They’re a bit too “untouchable” and difficult to challenge, so it’s easier to blame immigrants for stuff instead.

So, maybe that’s why UKIP is suddenly becoming popular. Or maybe it’s not. Either way, I’d rather focus on why I think people SHOULDN’T vote UKIP.

Personally, I can think of lots of reasons not to vote UKIP, but I’m going to focus on how I don’t think they’re a Deaf friendly party at all. In fact, I think they’re quite anti-Deaf.

Allow me to present you with five reasons not to vote UKIP…

  • We all know that the Deaf community is traditionally richly varied and international – it doesn’t matter where we’re from or what colour our skin is; we’re all Deaf. If you go abroad, or meet a Deaf person who’s from another country, you can always find a way to communicate visually, even if you don’t share a language.I think we’re all proud of that, but I’m not sure that it’s something that UKIP would approve of. They’re actually doing the opposite, and causing arguments and divisions within the Deaf community.
  • They didn’t bother to translate their manifesto to BSL. If there is a BSL translation, I haven’t seen it (I’d be interested to have a look, if there is one).In their General Election Special, See Hear asked Star Etheridge, the UKIP Disability Spokesperson, if they’d be translating their manifesto to BSL. She replied; “I’d like to.” That’s nice. Where is it, then?!
  • When watching that episode of See Hear, Star Etheridge really stood out from the other three panellists as not knowing much at all about deafness. The stuff she said really made me cringe!The worst thing, though, was how she referred to a deaf child as “it” (I had to double check the subtitles there) – as in “give it hearing aids; give it sign language; give it… etc.”

    I’d like to remind Ms Etheridge that we’re actually people.

  • I’ve tried and tried, but can’t find any of UKIP’s disability policies (their manifesto hardly mentions disability either). It doesn’t really matter, though, because their prospective parliamentary candidates seem to be all over the place. Take my local UKIP candidate’s leaflet, for example…

ukip leaflet

 

It’s actually quite funny.

The main thing for me, though, is how so many UKIP people have been kicked out of the party, or have resigned, because they’ve made “inappropriate” comments, showing they’re racist and homophobic. This includes how they have said disabled babies should be aborted.

I dread to think about the type of people who are involved in UKIP; if they can say awful stuff like that, then what’s stopping them from saying it about Deaf people next time?

I don’t think they’d bring about a fair, inclusive and well thought-out future for the UK, do you?

Jen Dodds is a Contributing Editor for The Limping Chicken. When she’s not looking after chickens or children, Jen can be found translating, proofreading and editing stuff over at Team HaDo Ltd (teamhado.com). On Twitter, Jen is @deafpower.

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