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Deaf people are unhappy with RTE's coverage of the Eurovision

The broadcaster has defended its approach.

Edurne is representing Spain at this year's competition.
Edurne is representing Spain at this year's competition.
Image: Ronald Zak

MEMBERS OF THE Deaf community have criticised RTÉ for its decision to transmit the Eurovision Song Contest without sign language.

The Austrian broadcaster ORF is transmitting the contest with an International Sign language (ISL) feed.

DeafHear has said nine European broadcasters have agreed to use this feed, but RTÉ has declined to do so.

Brendan Lennon, a spokesperson for DeafHear, said: “This was an ideal opportunity for our national broadcaster to include the Deaf community in the most watched television programme of the year.”

“What is particularly annoying is that there would have been no extra cost involved for RTÉ to have transmitted the programme with sign language on its internet streaming site.”

Speaking on behalf of the Irish Deaf Society, Susan Whelan said RTÉ’s decision was “disappointing”.

“The Deaf community are used to being left out and marginalised for many current and public events. The reasons offered usually include the issue of who pays for the sign language interpreter. On this occasion, RTÉ have been given an opportunity to include the Deaf community and they have chosen to refuse it.”

‘Not Free’

A spokesperson for RTÉ said the broadcaster is “committed to serving our hard-of-hearing and Deaf communities as demonstrated by our in-house subtitling team supplying subtitles on all three of the Eurovision Song Contest events this week”.

They added that the ISL feed referenced by DeafHear was “not entirely free as suggested and did involve costs for RTÉ”.

The spokesperson said RTÉ Access Services “selects programmes to ensure we continue to deliver the best value for our audiences, including the hard-of-hearing and Deaf communities”.

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Órla Ryan

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