PMQs trials sign language for first time in House of Commons in ‘welcome step forward’ for deaf viewers

The House of Commons has broadcast its first sign language interpretation of Prime Minister’s Questions, in what leading deaf charity officials have called a “welcome step forward.”

Parliament TV aired the British Sign Language (BSL) trial on Wednesday morning, in which an interpreter appeared alongside live footage of the Commons.

Today’s introduction of BSL interpreters builds on previous work to improve access for the deaf or hard of hearing.

In 2019, interpreters translated Westminster Hall debates and a select committee evidence session in 2019.

An interpreter translated all the action from today’s session in Parliament (Parliamentlive.tv) (Parliamentlive.tv)

Speaking ahead of today’s session, Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle expressed his “delight” at the move.

He said: “Everyone deserves to be able to follow our flagship event of the week – so I am delighted that we will have sign language interpreters to make this a reality for deaf people.

“This initiative chimes with my commitment to make our parliamentary proceedings accessible and as clear as possible to everyone. I would like to thank all those who have worked to make this happen.”  

Dr Roger Wicks, of Action on Hearing Loss described it as a “welcome step forward.”

He said: “We are delighted that the House of Commons is taking steps to improve the accessibility of Prime Minister’s Questions for deaf people by trialling British Sign Language interpretation. 

“The Deaf community shouldn’t be shut out of political discourse, or denied the information needed to become informed participants within our democracy – any measures taken by the House to remove the barriers to participation and improve accessibility for deaf people is both a positive and welcome step forward.”


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