Whilst reading my Facebook feed today, I read a few people had posted
an aricle to save Whatsapp in the UK. Curiosity got the better of me, and because I thought it was yet another load of rubbish I decided to take a further look – no, it was true, David Cameron (our Primer Minister) is considering banning WhatsApp along with Facetime, iMessage etc. His reasoning, because it falls under, “methods of communication that cannot be read by the security services even if they have a warrant”.
I kinda see where he is coming from, because I guess he is trying to stop the services to try and counteract acts of terrorism which I guess makes sense. But has David, and his ministers thought about this:
In the UK, according to the British Deaf Association, there is 156,000 people living in the UK who consider British Sign Language to be their first language. These are people such as my wife, my friends and generally, the people I care about. (By way of representation of figures, there is roughly 63.5 million people living in the UK at present. So these select group of people equte to about one in every 407 people. (407 x 156,000 = 63,492,000).
Now, how many interpreters do we have? I went to the ASLI (Association of Sign Language Interpreters) website and without any filters, searching for an interpreter, I found 505 records. So, breaking that down, this means each interpreter has to service the needs of nearly 309 deaf people. (156,000 / 505 = 308.9).
So, taking this to the next level – is David Cameron going to ban British Sign Language? I should hope not, I mean how will deaf people be able to communicate?!
But my point is this; British Sign Language is hardly an “encrypted” language like Whatsapp, iMessage etc. but can 505 “registered” professionals can’t communicate what 156,000 people are saying continually!? Is this country bi-lingual? Do we provide enough access for BSL users? What is this country doing about the future of deaf BSL user generations? Where is the provision for this group of people? Are deaf people getting the access and rights they deserve? Does this country have any deaf awareness?
The answer to all these questions, in my opinion, is negative! What are you going to do about it Tory government? Sign language isn’t really that hard to learn but think of what a difference it would make to the every day lives of ordinary people. Getting your haircut and being able to have a chat with your hairdresser, being able to order a coffee exactly how you want it, going into a shop and asking for help if you can’t find what you are looking for. The list goes on and on. Please do something, please! For this deaf BSL generation, the next and the next …
Paul can also be found expressing his personal views here.