Assembly first: Minister’s Question Time should be signed in English and Irish

First and Deputy Prime Ministers Question Time will be signed for the deaf and hard of hearing in English and Irish Stormont for the first time on Monday.

Assembly speaker Alex Maskey MLA confirmed that a pilot project to provide a live signature of Question Time to the executive office will begin at 2 p.m.

The pilot will run until the end of the current Assembly, scheduled for the end of March next year.

British and Irish Sign Languages ​​will be included and will help deaf and hard of hearing people access this important part of Assembly business. Kristina Laverty is the BSL signatory, while Amanda Coogan signs in ISL.

The bilingual signature was first seen at coronavirus press conferences featuring Prime Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy Prime Minister Michelle O’Neill last year.

The President said: “I am very happy to present this important initiative.

“Question Time is an essential part of our democratic process where Members of Parliament can directly question ministers. It is at the heart of the Assembly’s role to hold ministers to account and it is therefore crucial that it be accessible to all our citizens.

“We have a long-standing commitment to making our work as accessible as possible to all parts of our community. The introduction of live sign language for Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister questions in this pilot project shows how seriously we take this obligation.

“At the same time, the recordings of Question Time at the executive office will also be captioned and available for playback.

“By learning from this experience, the Assembly will be in a better position to reflect on how to meet the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing in the longer term. “

During this pilot period, the Assembly will hold regular meetings with representatives of the deaf and hard of hearing community to review and assess the functioning of the project.

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