Understand the importance of a language sign interpreter in public speeches

See how a sign language interpreter can ensure political accessibility to hearing-impaired people

During a political speech, which usually involves someone being in the spotlight, take look at the side of the stage to see someone equally important to some people in the audience: the sign language interpreter.

Sign language interpreters work to match the cadence, emphasis, jokes and subjects addressed by the speaker in an attempt to convey all these details to hearing-impaired people with all degrees of hearing loss.

That kind of attitude makes a difference. When you provide access and open doors to the deaf community, you can bet they will be there to discuss different agendas. They want to be part of that process. All they need is an opportunity.

With that in mind, read below to understand a little more about the importance of a language sign interpreter in politics.

Give voice to those in need

A deaf person rarely has the same level of access to conversations, stories and news. For example, in much of the world, radio is a lifeline for national and regional politics: election winners are announced, election debates are broadcasted, or election errors and disasters are discussed.

However, for a person who is deaf and uses sign language, radio broadcasts are virtually useless. This is one of the reasons why deaf communities are constantly disconnected from dialogues and political events in their city, state or country.

In Brazil, about 10 million people have some kind of hearing impairment, which is equivalent to 5% of the population. Campaigns and candidates are beginning to recognize this is a group of people that they really need to pay attention to.

Greater accessibility in politics

Public speeches and campaigns need to start focusing on measures that foster accessibility at events:

  • Will there be real-time sign language translation service available?
  • Will there be facilitated entrance for people with disability or who have been waiting for a long time?
  • Will there be a specific structure to accommodate people with special needs?

The truth is that people with disability rarely spend their time, money or energy on political events if they are not sure they can fully participate.

Normalization of this type of analysis shows that campaigns and candidates are taking this problem seriously.

Also, event planners need to understand that when thinking about accessibility, one should not think of a “minimum number of participants”. It is a matter of civil right.

So, asking “how many people need a sign language interpreter?” is considered inappropriate when planning events.

That said, it is also important to emphasize that accessibility can even affect the health of the population. For example, during a pandemic, it is especially risky and meaningless not to provide information to everyone.

If the deaf community does not have the information it needs – such as social distancing orders, shelter-in-place orders, hygiene orders and orders to use masks – these people become a risk to themselves and the community in which they live.

Sign language interpreter vs. closed captions

Although some speeches do not include a sign language interpreter, they usually include closed captions as a minimum. This feature describes the audio content of a video. They are like the subtitles of a movie.

In fact, broadcasters, cable TV networks and others involved in broadcasting are required by law to include closed captions on TV and the Internet to make content more accessible to all viewers.

Some hearing-impaired Brazilians certainly use closed captions to keep themselves up-to-date. The problem is that this solution is not always useful.

There are some members of the deaf community who believe this solution can still be inaccurate, difficult to follow or even inaccessible.

With closed captions, even if the accuracy rate is 100% (which rarely happens), a lot of content is missed or incorrect information provided.

The speaker’s tone of voice is among the elements lost with the use of closed captions. That’s why the facial expressions of a sign language interpreter, the signs chosen and the behavior can add context and comfort to a message – especially during a public speech.

Interpreters strive to capture the genuine emotion in a speech. Consequently, several members of the deaf community can gain a better understanding of how public decisions shape their lives.

The main idea of sign language interpreting is to leave no one behind.

The importance of sign language and the sign language interpreter

People with disabilities, such as hearing loss, should not be prevented from speaking up their minds. Just because someone cannot speak or hear, doesn’t mean their communication skills cannot keep up with the rest of the world.

Accessibility is gaining popularity because it is now the focus of those who need accessibility themselves. No one should be left behind, regardless of their conditions.

Having a sign language interpreter in politics shows the deaf community they are not being ignored and that they have the same right to information as other people.

This also applies to other forms of communication, such as sworn translation involving written documents, videos and other files published on the Internet and on TV.

Everyone deserves to have their voice heard, regardless of their status, and sign language makes this possible. It is positive for both sides: for the hearing-impaired and for those who relate to them.

We should live in an environment and in a world that can hear us and understand what we mean at all times, in all spheres of life.

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