Deaf mum Sally has been in the news recently regarding requesting interpreters for a Little Mix concert.  She initially asked the organisers LHG Live to provide an interpreter and was allegedly told no with no reasons provided.  Feeling strongly that she should have the same rights as everyone else to access the songs she instructed her lawyers to apply for a court injunction to force the organisers to provide them.  The hearing didn’t take place as hours before LHG live agreed her request to provide interpreters.  She is now suing them as they only booked the interpreter for the main Little Mix show and not the whole concert, so she wasn’t able to access the two warm up acts.

The thing that really struck me about this story is all the very negative comments this has attracted from the general public.  Google the story and several forums (including professional forums will come up).  There seems to be two main issues that people raise, and I think it’s really important that these are looked at.

Deaf people don’t need interpreters at a music concert. 

Most of the comments focused on whether Deaf people can access music properly with or without an interpreter and suggested that Deaf people should be happy with just seeing the lights and the show and hearing whatever they can manage to hear.    Now let’s get something straight – lyrics of songs are really important in music.    You wouldn’t want to listen to music without lyrics all the time, would you?  So, in that case why are we suggesting that Deaf people don’t have the right or shouldn’t want to access lyrics and if we do we are being unreasonable?    There are lots of people who may not want an interpreter but how we access music as a Deaf person is very personal and I strongly believe where possible we should have access to music events in BSL.

This case is the start of a slippery slope, which will have a negative impact on small venues

A concern regarding the impact that this case will have on small local venues/gigs was reiterated again and again.  Let’s just look at this for a moment.  The Equality Act is all about making reasonable adjustments.    When we think about what is reasonable, consideration must be given to the organisations resources and size.  The revenue from the Little Mix tour would be very high, therefore I would argue that it’s not unreasonable to expect them to pay for an interpreter.  It wouldn’t however be reasonable to expect a small local venue who are unable to afford interpreters to pay for them.

We at Enhance the UK, will be waiting to see what the final outcome of this case will be as it could potentially have a big impact of the access rights of Deaf people.

About The Author

Claire has worked with Deaf children for a number of years, initially as an Educational Communicator and then as a teacher. She recently moved into working in the community to support Deaf adults as a Community Support Worker. She is chairperson of Bedfordshire Deaf Children’s Society and secretary for Luton Deaf Football Club. She has also provided Deaf Awareness training to various organisations. Claire has her level 2 British Sign Language Certificate although she has been signing from a young age as she is deaf herself. Initially Claire was a hearing aid user but after losing her residual hearing several years ago she has had a Cochlear Implant. Claire is often accompanied to work by her hearing dog Ivy.

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