A LARGS sign language interpreter is urging the UK Government to consider introducing deaf people during its daily coronavirus briefings.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has stood alongside an interpreter during her own addresses since the crisis began, however there has been no such service at the UK-wide press conference.

Karrie McDonald says the deaf community has had to rely on social media to understand what is being said by Prime Minister Boris Johnston, deputy prime minister Dominic Raab, health secretary Matt Hancock and others.

She said: “I was very disappointed to see that there was no interpreter at the press conferences, I know there are many who would have done it for free.

“The deaf community is relying on social media for interpreters to release videos, they do not have the opportunity to know live what is happening.

"I am very proud that Nicola Sturgeon has made sure to have the best interpreters in the country standing next to her."

Although subtitles are available for the UK briefings, Karrie says this does not work for all of the deaf community.

She said: “Subtitles are not a fix for all deaf users as British Sign Language is a completely different language and word order so it doesn’t translate the same.

“In Scotland, we have the BSL Act which makes it mandatory for these things to be accessible, but they don’t have such a law in England.

“I would urge them to change that."

Karrie works at Ayrshire College as a BSL interpreter and offers classes locally which take place in Lounge, after qualifying from the Academy of British Sign Language in 2014.

She has set up a petition to make it mandatory for all students to learn sign language at every level of education, and for the funding of BSL teachers and exams.

The petition currently has 77 signatures and Karrie hopes that people will be more supportive of her campaign following the coronavirus pandemic.

She said: “With regards to the mandatory teaching campaign, I’ve gathered a lot of signatures but due to the current crisis I’ve stalled my efforts a bit.

“I’ve been in contact with North Ayrshire Council about the development of some kind of programme that can be delivered in schools, but it isn’t about adding to the curriculum unfortunately which is where I really wanted to take this campaign.

"Hopefully after all of this blows over the world will have a new sense of empathy and inclusion and I won’t find so many hurdles in my way.”

You can find the petition at www.you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/mandatory-bsl-teaching-in-schools-1.