Deaf community protest over RTÉ Irish Sign Language provision
Calls for full ISL national anthem for the All Ireland football final this Sunday
A protest by Members of the Deaf Community and ISL users protesting outside RTE over the public service broadcaster’s alleged failure to adequately include ISL (Irish Sign Language)Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times
About one hundred people have taken part in protests outside RTÉ sites over the national broadcaster’s Irish Sign Language provision on programming.
The protesters are calling on RTÉ to broadcast in full the Irish Sign Language version of the national anthem during Sunday’s All Ireland Football Final between Dublin and Tyrone.
The protesters, carried placards saying “Stop hiding ISL”and said RTÉ only showed the ISL anthem for a few seconds on television during the All Ireland Hurling Final.
Protester Micheál Kelleher said deaf viewers should be able to view a sign language interpreter on screen during normal broadcast hours. “We want to see the full ISL national anthem for the All Ireland football final this Sunday - we don’t want to have to wait until late at night to watch it,” he said.
“If you look at other countries such as China and Saudi Arabia and Germany, they do a picture in picture of an interpreter so deaf people can watch at home but all we have heard from RTÉ are excuses,” he said.
“I’m very angry that RTÉ aren’t showing the sign language interpreter on screen as ISL is so important to members of the Irish deaf community. Just last year the ISL version of our national anthem was recognised which was a step in the right direction but we feel we still have to fight for everything when it comes to our rights,” said protestor Mark Curran.
Second class citizens
Protester Thomas King said he and other deaf people feel they are treated as “second class citizens” by RTE when it comes to TV programming.
“There are a lot of issues we as deaf people have with RTÉ; subtitling, RTÉ have plenty of cameras and technology to make their programming more deaf friendly. We pay the licence fee too so why should we miss out,” he said
“I am refusing topay my next tv licence our demands are not met. We want access to ISLon screen and if not, why should we pay the full licence?,” he said.
“When people hear the national anthem at Croke Park they feel amazing and patritoirc. So for deaf people, when we watch at home and can’t see the ISL version of our national anthem, we feel frustrated and excluded,” said protester Michelle McLoughlin.
Protester John Bosco Conoma also called for more recognition of ISL and more visibility of ISL on our screens.
“Since the Irish Sign Language Act passed we thought we would have more visibility on our national broadcaster and people would get used to seeing us. We don’t want to be hidden and excluded anymore,” he said
The protesters handed a letter in to RTÉ, outlining their requests while a second letter is to be handed in to the RTÉ Studio in Cork by protesters there this evening.
In a statement RTE said the ISL anthem will be shown in full on RTÉ News Now during the build-up to this Sunday’s All Ireland Football Final.
The RTÉ 2 coverage will show a variety of shots during the anthem, such as the competing teams and dignitaries in Croke Park, as well as the ISL signer.
The RTÉ statement adds: “live signing, as incorporated by organisers into many events, is often very difficult to capture satisfactorily for home viewers and RTÉ has been looking at a better solution for live signing for some time, in addition to the live subtitling that is provided as standard.”