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Deaf woman takes UK Government to court over lack of interpreter at TV briefings

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A DEAF woman is preparing to mount a legal challenge after complaining about a lack of British Sign Language interpreters at UK Government Covid briefings.

Katie Rowley, 36, from Leeds, is taking action against the Cabinet Office, a lawyer representing her said. Solicitor Chris Fry said a judge will oversee an online hearing today.

He said UK Government lawyers are expected to dispute the claim.

London-based Justice Fordham is scheduled to begin hearing argument at 10.30am.


Fry, who is based at law firm Fry Law, said he is also representing about 350 other deaf people who have made similar claims. He said those cases are on hold pending the outcome of Rowley’s case.

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Fry said his client is arguing that the UK Government breached obligations to make broadcasts accessible to deaf people under equality legislation.

“Katie’s case is that an on-platform interpreter, who is in the room during the briefing, avoids any technical issues, ensures that a British Sign Language interpreted version is universally available on any channel, and demonstrates an inclusive approach by the Government,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“Scotland and Wales both have on-platform interpreters for their broadcasts.”

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He added: “The Cabinet Office is expected to argue that it complied with its duties by making an arrangement with the BBC to provide an interpreter, arranging a live feed, providing subtitles and providing written information online after the briefings.”


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