RTÉ says Irish sign language interpretation of papal visit ‘not possible’

Broadcaster responds to complaint by Irish Deaf Society over coverage of Pope Francis

Colm Keena

RTÉ has said it was not possible for it to provide sign language interpretation of its coverage of the visit of Pope Francis.

The Irish Deaf Society has expressed its disappointment that the national broadcaster did not provide Irish sign language interpretation (ISL) in its coverage of the mass in the Phoenix Park and other major events.

However a spokeman for the broadcaster said that ISL is often difficult to capture satisfactorily for home viewers.

Also, as host broadcaster for the papal visit, RTÉ was providing a “feed” to other broadcasters around the globe and there were a number of languages other than English in use.

This, along with the numerous countries where Irish signing would not work, meant live signing of the event was not possible, it said. RTÉ said it is currently testing live signing facilitated from RTÉ studios.

The Deaf Society said it appreciated the fact that RTÉ was showing highlights of the papal visit with ISL, on Monday evening, though this felt “like a consolation prize after the fact”.

The society also expressed its disappointment that before the Limerick/Galway match on August 19th, the ISL translation of the National Anthem was only visible on screen for one or two seconds.