Last year, at the peak of the pandemic, the whole nation was glued to the Government’s 5pm briefings; the information was vital.

It was hard enough to track and trace the guidelines, the scientific developments and the global ramifications as the world came to a halt but imagine not being able to understand those briefings?

Thankfully, Sandwell Deaf Community Association (SDCA) reacted, leaping into a new world and gearing up for the ride. With a limited number of interpreters, SDCA were pulling out highlights, interpreting and projecting the briefings back into the public within a couple of hours; their videos continue to attract more than 5,000 users from across the UK.

Ryan Ball, Communication Service Assistant Team Leader & Registered Sign Language Interpreter at SDCA, explained:

“SDCA is a charitable organisation that works within Sandwell and the Black Country.


“We’re there at every point in a deaf person’s life, from birth to death. Being able to continue that work, we know it’s saving people’s lives. If people didn’t know they’d be putting themselves in danger, they wouldn’t be wearing the right PPE, they wouldn’t be social distancing.”

SDCA received £1,500 from the Coronavirus Resilience Fund, covering staff member’s extra hours, allowing them to purchase filming equipment and explore other avenues of support during the pandemic.

Chloe Matthews, Trainee Sign Language Interpreter at SDCA, added:

“Imagine being in a world where you don’t know why that’s happening?


“A lot of deaf people can’t understand English, especially when you’re watching the news and you’ve got all these figures, the breaking news bulletins and all that information – subtitles aren’t reliable either!


“We felt responsible for our community and the people that rely on us to translate. As soon as we realised there was a need, we picked up the camera and off we went.


“Talking about it makes you realise how important our briefings were. You take it in your stride, it’s part of your job, but when someone says, ‘thank you’ it makes more sense as you do feel, especially while filming, disconnected looking through a screen.”

Deaf – The capital letter on the word ‘Deaf’ refers to those who have the cultural identity of being Deaf and a British Sign Language User, where as those who are deaf are people who are deaf but would not necessarily identify themselves as a part of the Deaf community.  

Read more case studies from our Annual Review 2020/21 here.

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