Thursday, October 22, 2009

Parliament Says You Have to Pay for an Interpreter!

Source Link - Parliament Says You Have to Pay for an Interpreter!

Parliamentary Tours are usually held each summer, or organised by a constituent's MP, so visitors can see the Commons and Lords debating chambers, the Queen's Robing Room, etc. A question was recently asked in parliament about access:

Jacqui Smith (Redditch, Labour)

Although I welcome the progress that has been made, I want my hon. Friend to be aware of what happened earlier this year, when I tried to organise a tour of Parliament for the Redditch Deaf Club. My office was told that no one could be assigned to the group because of cost reasons. Furthermore, I understand that there is not full hearing-loop availability throughout the whole tour. I do not think that that is good enough, and I hope that the level of progress will be upped to ensure that all our constituents can access tours of this place, regardless of their disabilities.

Stuart Bell (Second Church Estates Commissioner, No Department; Middlesbrough, Labour)

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. Induction loops are fitted in the Public Galleries, Committee Rooms and main Dining Rooms. On sign language, visitor services can provide a sign language tour, if it is booked in advance. Otherwise, the diversity managers can put a Member or visitor in touch with a British sign language interpreter, which would, of course, be at the visitor's expense. The House is in the process of providing British sign language training for 12 House staff, who will be able to assist visitors at short notice and at no cost to the visitor. I hope that that is a positive response for my right hon. Friend. However, if she has other such matters to raise, I shall be happy to take them up and refer them to the House of Commons Commission.

Now, did I read that correctly? I don't quite understand what he's saying here. Here we have the government proposing it breaks its own law? Deaf person pays for the interpreter, what gives? Hello, service provider with lots of resources what about your obligation for reasonable adjustments? So parliament passes the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, then refuses to follow its own law.

And why doesn't Redditch Deaf Club just sue?

If you read the rest of the debate, it goes onto say, "We have, of course, focused very seriously on disabled visitors who visit the visitor centre." Really?