Public outcry from the deaf community has resurfaced after being “ignored” yet again over requests for an Auslan translator during special broadcast announcements.
Two weeks following the historic marriage equality postal result, frustrations and disappointments still surround the ongoing and unresolved issue.
Deaf Australia, the national peak body representing deaf people have taken aim at Channel Seven, Nine and Ten over the exclusion of a sign-language interpreter in their coverage.
Chief Executive Officer Kyle Miers says the organisation has tried to propose change to federal government legislation to avoid the recurrence of the issue as viewed on 15 November.
“We have been writing letters and making recommendations but they have been ignored,” he says.
The current Broadcasting Services Act 1992 does not recognise a “community service announcement” to be a program needed for captioning.
It does however say; “if it is reasonably practicable to do so—provide a captioning service for the emergency warning.”
In January 2014, Deaf Australia wrote to federal, state and territory governments requesting that they put in place procedures so that authorities automatically include an Auslan interpreter in emergency broadcasts.
This came after members of the deaf community had to contact government authorities to ask for interpreters during the New South Wales bushfire emergency in October 2013.
Mr Miers says Deaf Australia who have continued to advocate for Auslan on television do receive feedback on their proposals but “most of them were not positive”.
“This is a recurring issue but the television networks don’t see the value of it,” he says.
Their most recent appeals regarding the marriage equality poll result coverage drew a response letter from Nine Entertainment Co.
After making clear their ongoing commitment to catering for their hearing impaired audience, Nine’s Chief Executive Officer Hugh Marks wrote:
“Due to the emotion of the issue, the reaction of the crowds was a matter of public interest and an extremely important component of the news coverage.”
“Unfortunately, in order to show this vision it was necessary to restrict the footage of the announcement itself to the government statistician delivering the result.”
Mr Marks concluded the letter by stating Auslan interpreters will be used “when practicable”.
Channel Seven and Ten are yet to respond with Deaf Australia unsure over a overall resolution.