Dr. Roger Wicks, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Action on Hearing Loss, said: “A general election is a nation’s opportunity to collectively decide how we are governed and the values that will decide how society operates. Time and time again, however, the information people need to make informed choices are not provided in an accessible way to the 12 million people in the UK living with deafness and hearing loss.
“Digital campaigning methods such as ‘walkabout’ videos of candidates talking about their policies and priorities are increasingly popular on social media, and have significant influence over peoples’ votes. It is simply wrong that parliamentary candidates are excluding the one in six people across the UK with deafness and hearing loss by not subtitling these videos. This creates a fundamental barrier to the millions who rely on subtitles, and ultimately compromises democratic principles of an informed electorate. There are a number of free apps that make captioning videos incredibly easy.
“We’d also urge the party leaders to consider some basic deaf awareness during the debates, which are now moments of huge national importance. By exercising some restraint and not talking over one another – behaviour which should be encouraged by the moderator – the live subtitling will be much more user friendly. The debates should then be uploaded to the on-demand services with fresh, accurate subtitles – not the live ones which will have been delayed. Finally, a version translated into British Sign Language would ensure that the deaf community have full access too.
“The results of this election will have profound implications for the whole of the country, and Parliament can only be representative if everyone is enabled to make informed choices about the candidates in their area.”