Channel 4 is celebrating Sign Language Week 2023 (13-19 March), marking 20 years since British Sign Language (BSL) was formally recognised by the British Government.
To underpin this year’s theme ‘Protecting BSL’, the Channel is highlighting its provision of BSL-interpreted programming and raising awareness of BSL, to continue to protect and preserve this unique language for future generations to come.
A number of Channel 4’s best-loved shows will air with BSL interpretation throughout the week, with highlights including the finale of the Great Pottery Throw Down, the Last Leg, and repeats of high-profile documentaries such as Dispatches’ Undercover Ambulance: NHS in Chaos, and Kathy Burke’s Growing Up. Signed episodes of Channel 4’s brilliant comedy content will also air across Channel 4 and E4, such as The Inbetweeners, Derry Girls, GameFace and Friday Night Dinner.
On Tuesday (14 March) Steph’s Packed Lunch will support the initiative with Steph joined by campaigners Katie Littlejohns and Sophie Lavers, raising awareness of their fight for the Government to provide free BSL lessons to the parents and families of Deaf children.
Over on All 4, a Signed category has been introduced to the homepage for Deaf viewers to easily explore signed content, including 50 hours of new signed dramas, documentaries, and comedies, in addition to regular shows such as Hollyoaks.
Signed idents created by 4Voice, Channel 4’s industry-leading in-house announcer team, in collaboration with the Equity & Inclusion and Access Services teams, will launch on Channel 4, E4 and All 4, promoting the channels’ comedy nights and on-screen BSL provision in an accessible and inclusive way.
Giles Barker, Disability Lead at Channel 4 said: “It’s essential that Channel 4 and its content is accessible to everyone, and that we constantly strive to support the Deaf community both on and off-screen. We’re incredibly proud to show a diverse range of shows with BSL interpretation as we add much more to our line-up throughout BSL Week.
“Internally, several Channel 4 colleagues are currently learning BSL, and it continues to be a popular introductory session at our regular Learning at Work Week initiatives.”
In 2022, more than 10% of the output on Channel 4 and E4 had BSL interpretation – more than double the Ofcom requirement, and its signed schedule included shows such as The Great British Bake Off and Made in Chelsea for the first time. In addition, each week Channel 4 shows a BSL-presented programme on Film4, as part of its relationship with the BSL Broadcasting Trust.