Deaf geographies, and other worlds.

An open letter to Ofsted

Here, an open letter to Ofsted, regarding their extraordinary publication – yesterday – of a consultation document aimed at Deaf children and young Deaf people (follow the link on that page, third down).

Rather than simply carry out the consultation in BSL, Ofsted chose to write the document ‘in BSL’ – as a series of static images of signs, in supposed BSL order, with English translations added.

Some of the images aren’t even signs… they are stick-figures, in boxes…

The result beggars belief – for a government who, in 2003, are supposed to have declared that BSL was a ‘natural language’ to do this is utterly bewildering.

This will be emailed to Ofsted at enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk

I’d encourage you to also write to them.

3 comments on “An open letter to Ofsted

  1. handeyes
    June 12, 2012

    wow – u just know someone thought this was a good idea and its like REALLY in the digital age when u can use video or photography and use REAL Deaf folks. Would love to see who was consulted!

    Just saw a brochure by the NY State Dept of Health re: HIV and AIDS education designed “for the Deaf” and at the top they had drawings that were supposed to be fingerspelling of HIV (i guess) but instead the H was the heavy metal hand symbol or bull#hit sign and i was like WOW … Education – its a beautiful thing

    ill take Johnny Depp signing “bloody #ucking love u valentine” any day over this brochure

    and now ur document – wow. especially to have it entirely in English word order minus all those little propositions that no one needs is like – hmmm – its like the tossed a bunch of drawings into a boggle player and dropped them on the floor and then lined them up to follow the English sentence

    thanks for sharing – glad u fired off a letter (dont see the letter here but maybe im missing a link or something?)

    if US letters r of help – holler



  2. Mike Gulliver
    June 12, 2012

    Hey Patti… the letter’s at https://mikegulliver.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/ofsted1.pdf

    There’s a link in the post, but I guess – perhaps – it’s not obvious.

  3. deafhearingfamilylife
    June 12, 2012

    Here’s my email:
    Dear Ofsted

    I am contacting you about your Children and Young Person’s Guide to the Adoption Support Agencies Consultation, and in particular the British Sign Language-based version (aimed at ages 0-17).

    The document you have produced is not British Sign Language, nor is it anything resembling British Sign Language. I am baffled how anyone thought this would give access to your consultation process to deaf children and young people who use British Sign Language. Deaf children and young people do not ‘read’ cartoons – they sign. They also read and write.

    There appears to be some discrepancy between the comprehensive and detailed questions on the English-based document and the cartoon BSL-based version (for example,the English-based document offers boxes for additional comments, while the BSL-based document gives ‘Yes/No’ options … I could go on).

    I wonder who was consulted in order to produce this document. And why a decision to produce a paper-based document with cartoons was taken. British Sign Language (BSL) has been officially recognised by the UK government as the 4th indigenous language of the UK since 2003. It is a visual, spatial language that cannot be written down (or rendered into cartoons/stick figures). It has a complex grammatical structure, combining handshapes, facial expressions, mouth-patterns, body movements. What the current document does is make an absolute mockery of decades of Deaf-Awareness and linguistic-equal-rights campaigning by the Deaf community and its hearing allies and supporters.

    There are many companies in the UK that offer English-BSL-English translation services. Your consultation document could (should) have been translated, by experienced, Deaf, BSL-using presenters, skilled in moderating their language for a range of deaf children and young people, and distributed alongside your other documents, or streamed for the web. BSL is not a communication ‘system’ for those with learning disabilities or communication difficulties. It is a language.

    Please, please consult the Deaf community when deciding to make your documents accessible to its members. This really isn’t rocket science. It’s respectful. It’s common sense.

    Thank you for reading this. I look forward to hearing back from you.

    Yours sincerely

    Donna West

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This entry was posted on June 12, 2012 by in Musings and tagged , , .
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