How COVID-19 impacts sign language interpretation in Germany
15 Maj 2020
The coronavirus affects society profoundly. But in what ways has the pandemic influenced the access to and need for sign language interpretation around the world? In our blog series “Deaf interpretation in the time of Corona”, we will take a closer look at the situation in different countries. This time, we focus on Germany, as Sabine Broweleit, CEO of the relay service TESS, discusses accessibility for the deaf in the country.
How extensive are services for sign language
interpretation in Germany normally?
”In Germany, VRI and
Remote Interpretation are available. Community interpretation is offered
sometimes. The German sign language has been recognized as an independent
language since 2002. For this reason, the profession of translation became more
and more established. Sign language interpreter training has been
Has the Corona situation affected the availability of
sign language interpretation?
has almost been canceled altogether, while the call volumes have risen to an
enormous degree. The demand for remote interpretation is increasing. In the beginning
of the Corona
crisis, information from the
government was not provided in sign language. There fore, the German deaf association had to
intervene. So today most information from federal and state government is
also available in German sign language. But deaf people don’t have a direct
connection to the
emergency medical service 116 117 regarding the corona. They have to call us
first to establish a telephone connection and they have to pay for it.
(Non-deaf people don’t have to pay. The calls are for free.) We cannot give a
statement regarding the increasing isolation of the deaf people. Maybe it’s
similar to hearing people.”
What would the best-case scenario look like? What
tools and decisions should be in place to increase accessibility for deaf
”We hope that the
medical service 116 117
will soon be available for deaf individuals free of charge.”