Here And Now

Deafness and TV

Deafness and TV hero image

We have all seen the Sign Language Interpreter on certain TV shows, usually on repeats early in a morning, or late at night, but how accessible is television to a deaf person?

Someone who is trying to help make TV shows more accessible to deaf people is Eastenders actress and current Strictly Come Dancing contestant, Rose Ayling-Ellis. Rose was born deaf, and whilst she does wear hearing aids she relies on BSL and lip reading, and has an interpreter on set at all times.

As an advocate for Deaf awareness and through the help of the BBC she has helped make the viewing experience better and more accessible for herself and others. Signed programmes are now available on BBC iPlayer, these are broadcast a few days after the original program providing an alternative to live subtitles and allowing people to be able to watch the show rather than focusing on the subtitles. Currently the BBC is the only TV service that offers this to their viewers, and hopefully other channels will follow in their footsteps, making TV more accessible and enjoyable for the Deaf community.

Through her acting and social media presence Rose’s ambition ‘…is to amplify deaf voices and stop people assuming deaf people can’t achieve.’ She spoke with the Strictly Producers regarding the subtitled shows and they were more than happy to add the option of watching with BSL interpretation. The executive producer of Strictly Come Dancing has explained how everyone working on the show has undergone deaf awareness training and have learn a lot from Rose herself.

It is fantastic to see TV becoming more accessible and hopefully other channels follow suit in providing BSL interpreters on their catch up facilities making TV more inclusive for the deaf community.


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