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Prime Minister stumped by sign language question

Prime Minister stumped by sign language question
16th April 2021 Ian Streets

An MP has shamed Prime Minister Boris Johnson with a protest in sign language about what she sees as his continued failure of deaf people.

Various media outlets reporter how Vicky Foxcroft made the powerful statement at Prime Minister’s Questions after Downing Street spent £2.6m on a TV studio for press conferences – but still provided no sign language interpreter.

The Shadow Minister for Disabled People asked silently in British Sign Language: “Why – no – interpreter – in the room – briefings”.

She added: “And if the Prime Minister doesn’t understand, imagine how those who rely on British Sign Language feel at his press briefings?

“£2.6 million spent on the new press room, yet still no interpreter.

“What message does he think this sends to disabled people?”

Mr Johnson, who the media reported appeared not to understand the question, spluttered: “I’m grateful to the honourable lady and grateful for the way she has set out her question.

“I will revert to her as soon as I can.”

Boris Johnson last month unveiled a new room for press briefings in a former court at No9 Downing Street, which underwent a £2.6m renovation.

But there is still no sign language interpreter and critics suggested there was no wheelchair access to the stage.

Ms Foxcroft said after the exchange: “The Prime Minister has been asked several times why his press conferences continue to exclude disabled people who rely on British Sign Language.

“His continued failure to answer is completely unacceptable.

“The Conservatives have failed at making essential communication inclusive, despite spending £2.6 million of public money on a new press room.”

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