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Dublin: 12 °C Monday 20 November, 2017
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Deaf groups say their members haven't been able to get the Ophelia news they need

The Irish Deaf Society and the Council of Irish Sign Language Interpreters have expressed their disappointment at the lack of sign language interpreters present during briefings regarding Storm Ophelia.

Screenshot 2017-10-16 at 16.28.43 A sign language interpreter working at the briefing of the National Emergency Coordination Group this afternoon - this was the first time such an interpreter had been present at these briefings

TWO PROMINENT BODIES representing the deaf have expressed their “deep disappointment and annoyance” at the failure of the emergency coordination group to alert those they represent to the “imminent dangers of Hurricane Ophelia”.

The Irish Deaf Society and the Council of Irish Sign Language Interpreters directed their ire earlier this afternoon at the National Emergency Coordination Group (NEC) and Met Éireann, saying that “neither organisation has followed the growing international trend of using sign language interpreters when holding a public briefing session”.

This omission puts the lives and property of deaf Irish citizens in danger. The incident has left us wondering if the State has any concern for the lives and safety of deaf Irish citizens at all.
We have seen a number of live streaming videos from various media sources, with visual and verbal announcements which can be seen and heard, but for the vast majority of deaf Irish sign language users, these announcements are inaccessible. Hence we miss out on vital emergency information, which could end up being harmful to us and our dependants.
Were it not for interpreters who have volunteered to translate some of these safety announcements via social media, the situation may have been even worse.

“We stress how serious and unsatisfactory this situation is,” the groups’ joint statement concluded.

The move may have had the desired effect – at the 4.15pm briefing from the NEC in Dublin a sign language interpreter was present to translate the various speakers.

Live: Country in lockdown as Storm Ophelia kills three people

Read: Storm Ophelia: Thousands of households will be without power for 10 days

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