Increasingly we are creating digital work but the vast majority of it is not accessible to deaf people who use British Sign Language (BSL).
Why is this important?
- Rights – fair access for deaf people whose first language is BSL
- BSL (Scotland) Act 2015 and Equality Act 2010, made BSL a nationally recognised language and organisations now have an obligation to promote and raise awareness of BSL
- Creative reasons – open up new ways of working
What is BSL?
BSL is a visual language, with its own grammatical structure that is distinct from SSE (Sign Supported English) or spoken English. Therefore, when working with BSL, treat it like any UNIQUE language, with its own history, culture and grammar. See HERE for more definitions.
What are my options?
Note: There are also other artistic art forms that are accessible to deaf audiences with many deaf people working within these fields including dance and visual vernacular – please see here for more information.
- Include a BSL Consultant in your creative decisions from the start. This might be the person you intend to use in the video. See here for more details.
- Understand the translation process from English to BSL and vice versa. This is a creative process that needs expertise and time. Plan for this process. Who will be responsible for this work? Do you need a BSL dramaturg or translator, for example? To learn more press HERE.
- Understand any communication support needs from start to end. If you are working with a deaf person, ask that person what support might be needed – i.e for everyone involved. If a Sign Language Interpreter (SLI) is required, ask the deaf person if they have a preference or recommendation.
- Understand the different options available in relation to communication support. Press HERE for more information.
- Use a deaf person/presenter to interpret your English language work where possible.
- Alternatively, you could choose to use a Sign Language Interpreter, but consult on and consider the creative possibilities of all your options.
- Aim to use a deaf actor for any performative BSL work where you can. This is best practice and would always be our preference.
- Budget properly and build your BSL project into your planning from the start.
- Bear in mind you could use the same person for one or more of the roles we refer to!
- Get excited about working with BSL, it is a rich visual language.
Making your English language work more accessible
Note: depending on what type of video you are producing, think about the placement and size of the interpreter in the frame. The larger the interpreter appears, the more accessible the signing will be – especially if viewed on a small screen.
Working with original BSL content
Things to think about:
- Creatively collaborate early, this might include rehearsals – etc.
- Consider using a BSL dramaturg in your process.
General rules for filming
- Have you thought about working with a deaf filmmaker and/or editor?
- Does your editor have BSL skills? If not, what support might be needed for them?
- It is a good idea to take notes of best takes during filming.
- Always add captions.
- Creating digital BSL content is only worthwhile if you can reach a deaf audience! Are you going to create a BSL information video? Are you going to create clear visual posters and BSL focused marketing information? See HERE for some suggestions.
BSL Monitor/ Script Editor
During the filming process when working with deaf participants consider bringing in a BSL Monitor/ Script Editor. This could be an SLI or a deaf translator (or the same person who is your BSL consultant). This person can support on-the-spot translation, review takes, work with the video production team, operate visual aids, slides or a teleprompter. If needed, this can be a vital component in a successful digital project. Please take advice from participants to see if this is required and budget appropriately.
What is BSL?
What is SSE?
What is a BSL consultant?
What is a BSL dramaturg?
What is visual vernacular?
How do I contact people in the deaf community?
How do I contact an SLI?
How do I contact deaf filmmakers/editors?
Information about communication support professionals
During this document we have referred to Sign Language Interpreters, but it is important to recognise that both hearing and deaf people need interpretation! Some common terms/acronyms:
SLI…. – (hearing/deaf)
TSI…. – (hearing/deaf)
Translator….. – (hearing/deaf)
It is important when reaching out to communication support workers to consider their experience and expertise in relation to your project. When possible, please consult with a BSL consultant or deaf participant.
Note: Some qualifications are dual qualifications but not all; so not all Registered Qualified Interpreters are qualified in translation. Similarly, you may have a deaf translator who is not an interpreter.
Ideas for marketing
Info to follow