1) Take what is probably the most famous online news website in the world – BBC news online – and insert the word ‘deaf’ into the search engine at the top of the page.
2) On the right hand side column, look for a box on ‘news and sport clips’ and view results for all of the recent online news videos or radio stories about deaf people.
3) See how many of these online clips feature any kind of access for deaf people.
4) Ask colleagues to put on their goggles and observe for your eruptions of fury. From a safe distance, obviously.
The results of my experiment? Well, of the first ten clips that came up:
* Nine were video clips and one was a radio clip.
* Only 2 of the videos had subtitles. A third had signed interpretation but no subtitles (which isn’t much use to deaf people who don’t sign)
* None of the clips, including the radio clip, had any kind of transcript or anything more than a cursory summary of the story.
* Four of the stories featured deaf children, of which two featured NDCS. None of these stories were subtitled or signed.
For an organisation that is paid for the public, including deaf people who don’t get any kind of discount for their TV license, and who have a remit to serve the public, this is pretty outrageous. What makes it worse for me is that I now feel pretty disempowered to be unable to comment on a story that is about deafness and features deaf children. The deaf children in the video clips won’t have a clue what is being said about them.
It’s not as if the technology isn’t there, as google have now proved.
Earlier in the year, I wrote to the BBC about this and was given some assurances that all of the above would soon be a thing of the past. So, as well as disempowered, I now feel like a complete muppet too for believing this.
I feel a very stroppy letter coming on. I’ll let you know how I get on.