Written by Zam Naqvi
Paul Ntulila dreams came true on April 23rd 2016 when the US Embassy and the White House asked Lingoing to provide British Sign Language interpreters to attend an event where President Obama was speaking.
“When I found out that I would have an opportunity to attend President Obama’s speech and Q&A with young leaders and ambassadors of the future, I felt very excited. Barack Obama has been a huge inspiration and a very influential role model for me. He exemplifies the breaking down of social barriers in that he is a Black man and was elected to be President of the United States. This has encouraged me to pursue my own political ambitions. Who knows, maybe one day I will become the first Deaf Black Prime Minister of England!” – Paul.
When Lingoing’s offices received the call to make such an important event accessible for d/Deaf people it was an honour and top priority for the company. “It is opportunities like these that create change and inspiration for our young deaf people, who carry the baton forward for the future of our community” – Sadaqat Ali, CEO Lingoing Ltd.
Lingoing has a network of interpreters, and we found two very trusted members of the Interpreting community to represent us. Brett Best, who is qualified as a BSL and ASL Interpreter and Sharan Thind.
Brett and Sharan recalled meeting Paul and his desire to pursue a career in Politics, and so arranged for him to attend the event. It is this type of initiative that we are so proud of, as Sharan explained “the Town Hall event with POTUS is unique. The impact that the event had for the Deaf BSL user was monumental.”
Brett, rightly states that “participation in the political process is fundamental for democracy. Members of the British Deaf Community have struggled with getting linguistic access to political information, and I hope that the British government will take note of this.”
Brett continues that if events like “these are made accessible to all members of society this ensures a diversity of perspectives and participation” which we are all passionate about.
This opportunity did draw an insightful contrast between a government that provides access as a matter of course at public political events and the lack of interpreters present at such broadcasted opportunities in the UK. This sheds further light on a question Paul wanted to ask, but didn’t get to do so “Do you think that the U.S. could serve as a role model for facilitating employment opportunities and access to society for Deaf people?”
A memorable experience for all of us involved and one that has opened more questions in our pursuit of equality.
What do you think? Please comment, share and discuss.