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March 20, 2007

Web initiative tells deaf people about emergency planning

From: SourceWire (press release) - London,UK - Mar 20, 2007

Signs for Emergency Planning

Gloucestershire web initiative tells deaf people about emergency planning through sign language video produced by EqualSign

EqualSign, a new low-cost, sign language translation service from EyeGaze, is enabling Gloucestershire County Council to prepare its deaf residents for major emergencies.

The 15-minute video, designed for the Internet ( ) and DVD, tells deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users how they can be better prepared in case of emergency. The EqualSign presenters are deaf native users of BSL who are experienced in presenting information to the estimated 50,000 to 75,000 deaf people in the UK whose preferred language is BSL.

“We have to make sure that everyone in the county has access to essential emergency information but we didn’t have the right expertise to produce British Sign Language videos ourselves. The DVD is very professional, was excellent value for money and we hope will get important messages across to the deaf community.” commented Michael Warner of Gloucestershire County Council. “We developed a script from our existing ‘Are You Ready to Respond’ materials and gave it to EqualSign whose deaf presenter translated it into sign language – with subtitles where appropriate.”

“Public bodies are quickly grasping that video sign language translations are a simple and quick way of informing their deaf BSL audiences and meeting their responsibilities under the new disability and equality regulations,” explained Mick Canavan, Managing Director of EyeGaze. “As a social enterprise, we aim to deliver low-cost sign language translation materials in a way that parallels the provision of leaflets translated into foreign languages – except that our output is video for the Internet, PCs and television. We are doing a very wide range of sign language translation work – from Comments and Complaints procedures for local authorities to school reports for local schools.”

“I'm sure there are many public information announcements that I miss out on but which my hearing friends have access to,” said Vivian Jones, a Gloucester teenager who is deaf and uses BSL as his preferred language. “The EqualSign video is a terrific way for us to receive information and I think the Gloucestershire initiative is fantastic. I hope other organisations in Gloucestershire and elsewhere will make BSL clips for sign language users.”

Under recent legislation and regulation (Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and the Disability Equality Duty 2006), the duties upon public bodies to communicate effectively with deaf and disabled people have increased (see Notes to Editors below).

For more information about EqualSign see

Notes to Editors:

1 Public bodies’ legal responsibilities

Under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, every local authority has a duty to ‘warn and inform’ its residents about emergency planning. They also have a responsibility to ensure that vulnerable groups, including deaf people, are given information in an appropriate way. For more details, see

Under the Disability Equality Duty 2006, all public bodies are required to actively look at ways of ensuring that disabled people are treated equally. Information provision and communication are key to compliance with the Duty. For more details, see

2 About EyeGaze and EqualSign

EyeGaze Ltd, the accessible information specialist, is a social enterprise dedicated to enabling organisations communicate effectively with their clients, customers and users.

Through its EqualSign service, EyeGaze provides sign language translation work for smaller, often web-based, projects for clients wishing to make their information accessible to an audience of Deaf sign language users and to meet their commitments under the Disability Discrimination Act. Clients of EqualSign services include Bristol City Council, Cardiff Council, Gloucestershire County Council, the Department for Education and Skills, the Health Advocacy Partnership, University College London, and the University of Bristol.

Through A+ Multimedia, EyeGaze provides innovative handheld eguides providing accessible information to deaf and disabled people at visitor attractions such as Museums and galleries. Clients of A+ Multimedia include Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, the SS Great Britain, Tate Britain and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

For more details, see

3 Numbers of deaf people and BSL users in the UK

There are no precise statistics on the number of deaf people in the UK. Estimates usually vary from 50,000 to 75,000.

In January 2007 in the House of Commons, the Rt Hon Malcolm Bruce MP stated that there are 200,000 people communicating in British Sign language (BSL), many of whom who use it as their first language. This figure includes hearing people who use BSL to communicate with family and friends.


Media Contacts:

Stephen Fleming at Palam Communications
Tel: 01635 299116