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Deaf People (Broadcasting)

Volume 164: debated on Monday 18 December 1989

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1.41 am

With your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and that of the House I wish to present a petition not only on my behalf and that of my constituents, but also on behalf of my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, East (Mr. Patchett) and his constituents. Unfortunately, my hon. Friend is ill and cannot present his petition. The petition contains the signatures of 1,500 of our constituents and relates to deaf people and television. The broadcasting authorities are not providing complete access to television for deaf viewers by providing, for example, subtitles or sign language. At least 4 million people are affected.

Deaf viewers are equal members of the general public and are entitled to equal access to television programmes. With your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I gratefully present to the House on their behalf the petition asking for the equal access that they rightly deserve.

To lie upon the Table.

1.42 am

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, West and Penistone (Mr. McKay) I beg leave to present a petition on behalf of my constituents and the people of Barnsley about facilities for deaf people in relation to broadcasting. The petition shows that broadcasters are not providing complete access for deaf television viewers through the use of subtitling, teletext or sign language. This affects about 4 million viewers who have a right to equal access to broadcasts. It gives me great pleasure to present the petition.

To lie upon the Table.

1.43 am

Like my two hon. Friends the Member for Barnsley, West and Penistone (Mr. McKay) and for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley), I also have a petition, signed by more than 300 constituents and residents of Coventry, who are concerned, as I am, about the inadequate provision of choice for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, who cannot listen to radio and who miss 90 per cent. of television programmes—those which are not subtitled. It is appropriate to present the petition on the day when the Broadcasting Bill received its Second Reading. Clause 32 of that Bill refers to the minimum number of hours per week during which programmes with subtitles can be broadcast. I hope that the petition will be noticed by those hon. Members who will serve on the Standing Committee.

The petition states:
To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled.
The Humble Petition of the people of the constituency of Coventry, South-East and elsewhere sheweth that the broadcasters are not providing complete access for deaf television viewers, for example with subtitles or sign language.
The number of viewers affected are at least 4 million.
Deaf viewers, as equal members of the general public are entitled to equal access to television programmes.
Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House will ensure that legislation be passed placing an obligation on television channel operators to make their programmes more accessible to deaf people by using Teletext subtitles, sign language or other means, and to reach complete coverage by a fixed date.
I endorse the petition and associate myself with all its sentiments, although not with the mediaeval language in which they have to be framed.

To lie upon the Table.