Deaf community to protest RTÉ coverage of Pope's visit and All-Ireland final

Deaf community to protest RTÉ coverage of Pope's visit and All-Ireland final

By David Raleigh

Protests by members of the deaf community are due to go ahead outside RTÉ studios in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and Waterford this Thursday over the public service broadcaster’s alleged failure to adequately include ISL (Irish Sign Language) interpreters in its televised coverage of the Pope’s two-day visit last weekend.

Yesterday, deaf community representatives accused RTÉ of excluding deaf viewers by not focusing the station's television cameras on ISL interpreters during the much-anticipated event.

Organisers of the four scheduled (4pm) nationwide protests said deaf viewers were also "ignored" by RTÉ during its televised coverage of the All-Ireland Hurling Final after the station did not broadcast in full the ISL performance of the national anthem prior to the game.

They called on RTÉ to broadcast an ISL performance of the anthem at next Sunday’s All-Ireland Football Final at Croke Park.

The protest group, which is spearheading a social media campaign entitled #StopHidingISL, is being supported by the Irish Deaf Society.

Organisers of the Dublin protest said they plan to hand a petition signed by a few thousand people supporting their cause to RTÉ's Donnybrook studios, addressed to the station’s Director General, Dee Forbes, and the Head of Sport, Declan McBennett.

RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes
RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes

“We are also planning to do an ISL rendition of the national anthem at the protest,” a spokesperson added.

The protests are due to take place outside RTÉ Studios in Donnybrook in Dublin; Fr Mathew Street, Cork; Cornmarket Square, Denmark Street, Limerick; and Carriganore House, WIT, Carriganore Campus, Old Kilmeadon Road, Waterford.

In response to the protest group's complaints, RTÉ said: “Live signing, as incorporated into many events, is often difficult to capture satisfactorily for home viewers.”

“As host broadcaster for the papal visit, RTÉ was providing a world feed. There were a number of languages other than English in use, and this, along with the numerous countries where an Irish Sign Language interpretation would be obsolete, meant that live signing of the event on television was not possible.”

“As such, RTÉ provided live subtitling for the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland.”

“In addition, the Monday evening highlights programme tonight at 8.30pm on RTÉ News Now will be signed in ISL.”

“RTÉ News with Signing was scheduled on both days, on Saturday at 5.53pm and Sunday at 5.53pm.”

“RTÉ has been looking at live signing for some time. Trials, of which tonight's Papal Visit highlights programme is a part, are actively testing live signing facilitated from RTÉ's studios.”

“The most recent independent assessments show that RTÉ has not only met but has exceeded the targets set for Irish sign language and subtitling.”

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