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Our response to the Final Report from the Commission on COVID-19, Ableism and Racism.

SignHealth is pleased to see the commission have recommended the inclusion of subtitles and British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation in all public health broadcasts. 

During the pandemic, Downing Street refused to include a BSL interpreter at their Covid-19 briefings to the nation. This left many in the Deaf community without access to life-saving guidance and information. Accessible information is key to public health, and we welcome this important recommendation from the commission. 

It also became clear early on in the pandemic that Covid-19 was becoming particularly serious for disabled, Black, Asian and minority ethnic people. Key findings from the report highlight the poor response seen to addressing this increased risk.  

It should not have been true that disabled, Black, Asian and minority ethnic people would be more likely to lose our lives to Covid-19. But actions taken at the time backed a vulnerability narrative and led to that reality.  

We agree with commission chair Kamran Mallick, “We must demand action. The bodies responsible for ensuring equality must be given the powers and resources to hold the government and our institutions to account.”

Thank you to the commission and everyone who contributed their lived experiences to highlight the injustices that happened and what needs to change. 

– James Watson-O’Neill, Chief Executive at SignHealth