Lack of interpreters during the Stockholm terror attack

Swedish media have been criticized after the terror attack on April 7th, when a lorry drove through a crowded shopping street midday in Stockholm central, killing five people. The reporting was lacking sign language interpreting and the deaf community have demanded that authorities look into their routines in crisis situations.

After the terror attack on the Friday afternoon in central Stockholm media reported live all day, but it took several hours before there was any reporting translated to sign language. There was also no TV or web news channels that translated important events such as the police press conference and the king’s speech. This left many deaf and hard of hearing people not understanding what was going on.

“We don’t get the same opportunities to know what’s happening. We don’t get support and tools to process our worries and experiences. We don’t get the opportunity to share grief and show solidarity with the people affected. We don’t get to be a part of the community.” Writes twelve organisations for Sign Language speakers.

According to Christina Ågren at Swedish public service TV-channel SVT, the reason for the delay in communication was the lack of interpreters. “Unfortunately, there were several cases of illness in the town Falun where most of our sign language interpreters are based. Once we got a hold of interpreters they had to travel to get in and start interpreting.”

Many Swedish organisations for the deaf and hard of hearing have strongly critised how the crisis information was handled, and are demanding that authorities look into their routines at crisis situations.