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Boris Johnson slammed for lack of BSL interpreter at COVID briefings

Boris Johnson the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom coronavirus briefings
Photo: Dreamstime

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was accused of a “shameful” lack of provision of a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter for people who are deaf or hard of hearing at Downing Street press conferences.

Johnson has been regularly challenged about the lack of a BSL interpreter at the No 10 events.

At the Commons Liaison Committee, Caroline Nokes MP, chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, said: “Can I ask, when the Home Secretary says that the current lockdown rules are clear, and the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police says it’s preposterous that anyone could be unaware of the rules, why are we still not doing a better job of explaining to vulnerable people what these rules are?”

In his response, Johnson said: “I know I have been asked this a couple of times about sign language, in particular. There are obviously various logistical issues that need to be overcome, but I will take that away and see what we can do to increase sign language.

“What I can tell you, is that the campaigns – the normal TV broadcast, for instance – the campaigns that we have are provided in accessible formats and translations. We have multiple media channels that we use to help reach people,” he said.

The Prime Minister insisted that public information campaigns were “provided in accessible formats and translations” and “we have multiple media channels that we use to help reach people.”

Senior Tory Caroline Nokes, who chairs the Commons Women and Equalities Committee, criticised his response.

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