Campaign group challenges BBC Scotland claims of lack of indyref material for deaf


  By a Newsnet reporter
A report by BBC Scotland that highlighted an apparent lack of referendum related material for deaf people, has been challenged by one of Scotland’s leading sign language groups.
Sign4Scotland, which is a Yes leaning group operating within the signing community in Scotland described the BBC report as “very unfair” and pointed to a raft of material available for the deaf community in Scotland.

In its online article, entitled ‘Scottish independence: Deaf voters critical of referendum campaigners‘ the BBC reported critical comments from the charity Deaf Connections.

According to the report, a Freedom of Information request by the BBC found 29 copies of a sign language version of the White Paper had been sent out, there had been eight ordered in Braille along with 54 audio copies.

Responding, John Denerley, from Deaf Connections said it was a ridiculously low number for Scotland’s 5,000 British Sign Language (BSL) users.  Mr Denerely reportedly told the BBC it was, “ridiculous, shocking, and frankly embarrassing”.

He added: “You’re talking about over 5,000 British Sign Language (BSL) users in Scotland, and that shows there’s been no publicity around these alternative versions of the White Paper.

“Even as a deaf organisation, Deaf Connections has not received any of the BSL versions.  What they should have done is contact all the deaf organisations and given them a whole host of them to give out to deaf people in their communities.”

However, the claims that deaf people have been let down by both campaigns has been vigorously denied by pro-independence group Sign4Scotland.

In a lengthy statement to Newsnet Scotland a spokesman for the group listed a wealth of material that has been produced and accessed across Scotland’s deaf community.

Responding to the claims made by BBC Scotland, a spokesman said: “The article claims that there have been just 29 copies of a Sign Language edition of the White Paper been sent out, however, an online version which is in BSL only (no subtitles or spoke words and lasts over 2 hours and 20 minutes) has achieved over 500 plays.”

Click image below for official Scottish Government sign version of White Paper

Responding to the call from Mr Denerley of Deaf Connections, for someone from each of the campaigns come and speak to the deaf community in person, and maybe have BSL video on their campaign websites, the spokesperson added: “We believe this is unfair as both Sign for Scotland and Scottish Deaf Independence have been producing videos for months.”

Sign for Scotland is a broad group which was started in January 2013 and is aimed at those who care about Deaf issues.  Members range from well-wishers to those who fingerspell to those who are Deaf and interpreters.

The Sign4Scotland spokesman added: “We’ve hosted over 21 videos with our most popular achieving over 1,500 hits on YouTube. That video (I’m voting Yes) featured contributions from Humza Yousaf MSP (who introduces himself in Sign Language), John Finnie MSP and Nicola Sturgeon MSP.

“Senior Yes Scotland figures also featured including Blair Jenkins, Dennis Canavan, Elaine C. Smith, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh and Colin Fox.”

I’m voting Yes video{/youtube}

Sign4Scotland has a Facebook page which has over 1,000 likes and the group’s Twitter account is followed by over 1,600 followers.  The official website has achieved over 42,000 hits with over 78 individual blogs (including a recent guest blog from Jean Urquhart MSP)

The spokesman concluded: “Our friends at Scottish Deaf Independence have done even more, with numerous videos in BSL providing detailed information on a range of topical issues.”

You can find Scottish Deaf Independence on their Facebook page with some also featuring on their YouTube Channel.