Prioritise programmes according to the costs and benefits of signing


Given the cost of sign language interpreting, it is usually not possible to add it to all programmes. The decision on which programmes to prioritise should take into account both the costs of sign language interpreting and the benefits for viewers. The cost may vary for different programmes, depending on the programme type, length and possibly other factors. For broadcasters, there is likely to be a significant cost difference between buying in pre-signed programmes and producing or commissioning new signing. The benefits will certainly vary because the addition of sign language interpreting benefits some programme types more than others.

Directions and techniques

Prioritise the most popular or important programmes

If time, resource or technical constraints make it impossible to sign all programmes, take into account the relative popularity of different programmes. Deaf people are no different in most respects to hearing people, so they are likely to enjoy the most popular types of programmes news, documentaries, dramas and special events. Concentrate initial efforts on these programmes and move on to less popular programmes later.

An exception to this is programmes made specifically for deaf people, concerning deafness itself or aspects of Deaf culture that are shared by those people who consider themselves part of the Deaf community.

The importance of programme content should also be taken into account. News reports or announcements warning of natural disasters and other vital public information notices should always include sign language interpreting. A sign language interpreter can travel with the news team. In general, signed news programming is important to enable Deaf people to participate as informed citizens.

Prioritise programme types that benefit most

If time, resource or technical constraints make it impossible to describe all programmes, prioritise programmes that contain a lot of talking, such as chat shows, news and current affairs, as these may benefit most from sign language interpreting. While there is far less research on this subject than on other aspects of viewer habits, the current evidence (including that based on eye gaze research) suggests that sport, films and drama are the least suitable for sign language interpretation.