Richard MacQueen: Why I’m disappointed with BBC Scotland’s viral comedy clip

Posted on December 1, 2017

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I’m disappointed with BBC Scotland for the video they have released on Facebook showing two police officers being taught rude signs (which they think are signs for coffee) by two deaf men in a park.

(please note: not suitable for children – watch the clip by clicking here).

BBC Scotland has 800,000 followers on Facebook and the video has gone viral with 4.5 million views and nearly 40,000 shares.

I’m a Deaf/BSL user and I’m active in the Deaf community and I can see there is funny side.

I think the clip is suitable for the Deaf community, but I don’t see it as being positive when shown to hearing people. Let me explain why.

One reason is age. Everyone over the age of 13 can get a Facebook account. This means that many young people of school age have been exposed to these signs, which I believe will lead to bullying of deaf pupils.

I know this because I used be one of the victims of bullies. Once hearing school children learn the rude signs, they will repeat the signs.

In my experience, they’ll be interested in signing the rude words but not in learning enough sign language to have a real conversation.

When I teach people sign language, I get so many requests to learn the rude signs and of course I always refuse. I believe people shouldn’t be taught those signs until they master basic sign language.

In Scotland, the BSL national plan was launched last month but is this video the right message to be sending to the hearing community?

That’s my personal view and I’d like to know what you think. Tell me in the comments below.

Richard MacQueen is a BSL user from a deaf/hearing family. His mother and brother is deaf and he has two boys, one of whom is deaf. He works in multimedia, specialising in accessibility.

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