Access is not an option!

May 22, 2020

During Covid-19 pandemic, the WFD has been in dialogue with international bodies of their obligations to ensure accessible information distribution and to issue guidelines to national governments that emphasize the need for access.  Our dialogue has been successful.  One example of the WFD’s work is its success in strengthening the WHO Disability Guidelines.  Whereas it previously said sign language interpretation should be provided ‘if possible’ this has now been changed to mandating national sign language interpreters. 

The WFD has participated in multiple forums to ensure international bodies follow their obligations to provide information in accessible formats.  We’re pleased to note over 100 countries have had some form of national sign language interpretation at their public health press conferences. We are also pleased to see the UN Secretary General’s Office has provided International Sign and closed caption access on its video message.  We commend the WHO office in the Latin American Region (PAHO) for making their information materials and webinars accessible in International Sign.

This week the WFD issued a Statement at the WHO World Hearing Assembly.  In it, we emphasized lack of International Sign interpretation at WHO daily briefings was unacceptable. We applaud the recent addition of subtitles but remind the WHO that these briefings, and other communications, must also be made accessible in International Sign. Access is not an option, it is a necessity. To protect everyone.

Access is not an option, it is a necessity.  International bodies and national governments must ensure deaf people have full access to information immediately .  Get interpreters in place now.