Gloucester candidates take questions from deaf voters

Sign language

Sign language interpreters were used to help with communication

BBC News United Kingdom

General election candidates for Gloucester have been taking questions from deaf people in the city with the help of interpreters.

The panel included Conservative Richard Graham, the Liberal Democrat’s Jeremy Hilton and Parmjit Dhanda, who is defending the seat for Labour.

Organisers said deaf people were among the most hard to reach groups because of the difficulty in communication.

People of all levels of hearing impairments were taking part.

A British sign language (BSL) interpreter and speech-to-text operator helped with the communication

‘Huge problems’

Jenny Hopkins, from the Gloucestershire Deaf Association, said: “One in 800 people is born profoundly deaf in this country and one in three people over 60 years of age suffers some level of acquired hearing loss.

“They are as interested in the forthcoming general election as anyone, but are unable to follow much of what is going on because of their hearing impairment.

“Deaf people have huge problems with access to information and often the communication solutions presented by government and local authorities – such as 24-hour telephone helplines – simply exclude them further from services hearing people take for granted.”

The candidates for Gloucester are: Labour: Parmjit Singh Dhanda; Conservative: Richard Graham; Liberal Democrat: Jeremy Eric Hilton; Green: Bryan John Meloy; English Democrats: Alan Arthur Platt; UK Independence Party: Mike Smith.

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