Rachel Woods MLA has welcomed sign language interpretation pilot in the Assembly this afternoon (Monday 13th December).
The Green Party NI MLA for North Down said: “This pilot is a positive step towards making our devolved institutions accessible. Today, the pilot will include the interpretation of Executive Office Question Time, but there will be a formal evaluation of the pilot at the end of this Assembly mandate, which I hope will recommend the provision of sign language interpretation throughout the next mandate at every part of Assembly business.
“The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of ensuring that government announcements, especially around public health measures are accessible to all, and this was raised by a number of speakers at the recent Disabled Person's Parliament which was held on Friday 3rd December. It’s also an important that the proceedings of our Assembly can be easily accessed and understood, in the interests of the principles of transparency and accountability, and to be more inclusive.
“Sign language legislation has already been enacted in the Republic of Ireland and Scotland, but Northern Ireland still lacks such a law. The New Decade, New Approach deal in January 2020 included a commitment to introducing a Sign Language Bill for Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, almost two years later, the Executive parties have failed to deliver on this.
“Whilst this pilot is very welcome, more must be done to ensure that sign language is given the full legislative protection it deserves."
Media contact: Jack O'Dwyer-Henry (07504410770)