Success for 3 Deaf Mums who took on Little Mix’s Promoters!
Three years ago, on 1st September 2017, Cate and her friends Megan and Emily went to the Little Mix event at the South of England Showground as part of a birthday treat, this turned out to be the start of an unprecedented legal battle.
Cate’s Mum Sally Reynolds, and her friends Mums, Victoria Nelson and Sarah Cassandro are Deaf, they were only able to follow part of the event, and only after issuing an application for an injunction in the County Court. The Little Mix events promoter refused to accept that British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreters were reasonably required, and when challenged with legal action threatened the families with costs liabilities of over £100,000.00.
Today 16th September 2021, Judge Avent in the Central London County Court handed down a Judgment, this criticised the behaviour of the LHG Live (the company changed its name to Live in the UK and is owned by Liz Hobbs) and found them guilty of unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act.
The Judgment makes it clear that service providers are required to provide Sign Language Interpreters for Deaf service users.
Commenting on the success of the case, Sally Reynolds said:
“We are all extremely delighted with the outcome of this legal challenge. The three of us wanted the same access to the event that everyone else had. The cost of the Interpreter was minuscule to Liz Hobbs’s team, but her response to our request was so hostile that we had no option but to ask the Court for a ruling.
Over the life of this case, Victoria, Sarah, and I, have put up with criticism, ignorance and threats from the defence legal team. Thanks to Judge Avent, we feel thoroughly vindicated for bringing legal action. We are also so pleased that Judge Avent in his Decision recognised our tenacity in seeing this legal challenge through. This was always a team effort; we never gave up in pushing for a legal outcome and we could not have achieved this without each other’s unwavering support.
We hope that this ruling will empower Deaf people who want access to services, without them having to go through lengthy discussions or seek out legal action.
We are aware of the barriers that Deaf people face on a daily basis, when trying to access services, so we recognise that achieving a positive outcome in this case provides immense benefit to the Deaf Community. Our hope was always that the trial outcome would provide a legal safety net that Deaf people may use in the years to come. The release of Judge Avent’s decision confirms that we were discriminated against and that LHG Live should have agreed to provide a BSL interpreter at the point of request.
We would like to personally thank Chris Fry our solicitor for taking on this case and Catherine Casserley our barrister for her consistent detailed approach. Our thanks also go to CrowdJustice and all of our supporters, who helped us to raise the funds needed to cover our legal costs. We thank Limping Chicken for their excellent media coverage during the trial this summer. We would also like to thank Marie Pascall from Performance Interpreting, who continues to work hard in raising BSL awareness within the entertainment industry. And last, but not least, we thank all of our amazing supporters, along with family and friends, who have travelled this journey with us over the past four years, we are immensely grateful to you all.”
Chris Fry, a disability rights lawyer acted on behalf of Sally, Victoria, and Sarah, he recently succeeded in a claim against the Government for failing to provide BSL interpreters through the Covid pandemic. Adding to Sally’s comments, Chris said:
“Being Deaf doesn’t mean you should expect second-best service. I hope that this decision will help people who use BSL as their first language and that they will see that change is possible with the right legal help and support. I would like to thank Judge Avent for his careful and important decision, Catherine Casserley for her expert, astute and caring assistance and Sally, Victoria and Sarah for giving me the opportunity to represent them.”
Gideon Feldman, Head of Programmes for the live event accessibility charity Attitude is Everything, said:
“Promoters and event organisers budget for crew, artists, sound systems and security (amongst other thing) when putting on shows, and we hope that following this case all promoters will budget for access requirements. Live music should be accessible for everyone and we urge all event organisers to seek expert advice to ensure that it is.”
Chris Fry is an award-winning disability rights lawyer who works closely with the Royal Association for Deaf people to help promote access and inclusion. He is one of the only specialist disability lawyers in the UK, his work spans the private and public law, this covers leading authorities, including the Supreme Court.
Chris runs his own private practice through Scott Moncrieff & Associates in London. He regularly undertakes work on a pro bono and No Win No Fee basis, subject to capacity.
Key Decisions in the Judgment
As a matter of reality the case is concerned with an important and rather fundamental issue as to what access and, in turn, the extent of such access, deaf people might have under the Act in order to experience and participate in large open-air concerts otherwise attended by hearing people.
Acknowledgment of the status of British Sign Language (Paragraph 74):
BSL is a mainstream means of communication for a significant section of society.
No thought given to the likelihood of Deaf people attending concerts (Paragraphs 139 and 140):
Overall, the thrust of Lives’ position in relation to the support acts was that there was insufficient time to deal with the issues which arose. I reject that contention. Whilst I found it slightly surprising to learn that Live had not previously, until Ms Reynolds wrote in August 2017, been asked to provide a BSL interpreter at a concert, a considerably greater concern was the fact that Live appeared to have given no thought whatsoever to the possibility of deaf people attending one of their concerts and, therefore, to have given any consideration to what reasonable adjustments might need to be made.
They had certainly considered that disabled people would attend because, as Mr Hobbs exhibited, the diagrammatic plan for the event incorporated a disabled viewing area at the front of the stage. But I have reservations as to whether there was any real contemplation or thought given in relation to deaf people.
Ms Reynolds request was seen as a nuisance (Paragraph 143).
I find that the correspondence discloses that Live’s position was generally reticent and that they viewed Ms Reynolds request more as a nuisance than something which they should have been proactively pursuing. This culminated in the somewhat remarkable statement in the email of 9th August 2017 (see: paragraph 24 above) that no interpreter would be provided at all.
The Provision of BSL will always be more than likely a reasonable adjustment (Para 155):
Where concerts of this magnitude and size of being provided for a particular band, with or without support acts, for one night only at a specific geographic location, it seems to me generally speaking that the provision of a BSL interpreter will always be more than likely a reasonable adjustment to make or provide.
The importance of a Declaration of discrimination (Para 158):
I will exercise my discretion to grant a Declaration. In my judgment this is a remedy which is as equally important, if perhaps not more so, to the remedy of damages because there is then a public recognition of the discrimination which is taken place and a vindication of the claimants’ action. I also note that Live never apologised for their approach to this matter and a Declaration will give Ms Reynolds, Ms Nelson, and Ms Cassandro some satisfaction in that regard.
A vacuum of ignorance and understanding (Para 166):
Live sought to impose what it considered to be solutions in a rather high-handed manner and in a vacuum of ignorance and understanding as to any of the claimant’s disabilities and needs. There was no enquiry from Live at any point as to the extent and nature of their disabilities.
Performance Interpreting urges industry to check reopening plans against 10-point checklist to ensure Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent audiences/fans/consumers are not left behind.
Performance Interpreting is today calling on the UK’s festival organisers and entertainment & sporting venues to check their reopening plans against a 10-point checklist published by the cross-sector Audience Access Alliance.
Designed to apply to any venue or event, from football clubs and outdoor festivals to heritage sites, music venues, tourist attractions and theatres, the cross-sector 10-point list enshrines the key understandings and policies that need to be in place for reopening to be accessible for Deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people, regardless of the setting.
Accessible Reopening Checklist
Any venue or event reopening to the public should be able to say “yes” to these things:
We agree that every person has the right to assess their own level of risk.
People can find facts on our website about accessibility and COVID safety to make informed decisions.
If we have tickets on sale, Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people can arrange the access they need.
No one is advised against visiting our event or venue.
No one will be challenged about their ‘risk status’ at our entrance due to a perceived ‘vulnerability’.
Attendees are not expected to bring a doctor’s note if unable to wear a mask.
Our COVID safety measures are accessible for everyone.
Our street furniture does not obstruct accessible parking or access routes for attendees or pedestrians.
Our staff have been trained in disability awareness and understand our access provision and COVID-safety measures.
We are committed to listening to Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people and engaging with any new audiences gained online during lockdown.
For all our hard-rocking BSL users, Performance Interpreting will be running a small service at this year’s Download Pilot festival. Please check our social media streams for up-to-date information regarding interpreter position and availability.
Stay safe……………look after each other……………and have fun!
Performance Interpreting is proud to announce it’s membership within the Audience Access Alliance, which champions the contribution of Deaf and disabled audiences across sectors.
Let us help you in #BuildingBackForAll.
Find out more about the alliance here:
⚽Success on the Euros2020 ticket ballot for screenings down at Trafalgar Square?? We’ll see you there! ⚽
**2x BSL Interpreters can be found on the access viewing platform.**
Marie Pascall, founder of Performance Interpreting, discusses interpreting for Ed Sheeran
Signkid’s story at The Wireless Festival, plus interpreting from Performance Interpreting
National Theatre launches subtitles glasses.
Interesting article on the National Theatre’s new subtitling glasses with comment from Performance Interpreting’s Marie Pascall
It’s important to note over 100 Deaf people have trialled these glasses at the National Theatre. Performance Interpreting recommended the New York Times contact Deaf people involved in the trial to provide feedback & interviews.
Read an article in The Limping Chicken here:
Letter to the Birmingham Evening Mail
Performance Interpreting are proud to be working with Kilimanjaro Live & DHP Family to provide a BSL Interpreter for two dates on the Ed Sheeran Tour 2019. Kilimanjaro Live & DHP Family are one of the first promoters to provide BSL access at the point of ticket sales.
BSL Interpreting will be available on request for August 17th 2019 in Leeds and August 24th and 25th 2019 in Ipswich.
Tickets can be purchased here: edsheeran.alttickets.com and are on sale from 27th sept. Tickets are reserved for BSL Users, however they are still likely to sell out fast. It is possible more dates may be added depending on demand.
Any questions please email: firstname.lastname@example.org Facetime / skype in BSL available.
***IMPORTANT *** AUGUST 17th 2019 – LEEDS
Buy tickets from: edsheeran.alttickets.com ALL TICKETS THE SAME PRICE – LEEDS ONLY
Please email: email@example.com (Please let them know you are Deaf and would like to be near the BSL Interpreter. If you have additional access needs and require seating or wheelchair a accessible area, please let them know so they can make the necessary arrangements).
AUGUST 24TH 2019 – IPSWICH
Buy tickets from: edsheeran.alttickets.com
PLEASE BUY STANDING TICKETS FOR IPSWICH ONLY
Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org (If you have other access needs please let them know when buying tickets and that you also need to see the BSL Interpreter so they can make the necessary arrangements).
Download festival wins an award for accessibility – BSL Interpreting provided by Performance Interpreting.
Marie Pascall, Director of Performance Interpreting, made an appearance on The One Show on Monday 30th April to talk about accessibility at music events. You can catch up here:
Performance Interpreting are proud to be providing interpreters for the first ever Access Service at this years Download Festival. Deaf Rock fans – get ready!
Following Performance Interpreting’s Abigail Gorman in her role as British Sign Language Coordinator at Bestival – she’s determined to make festivals accessible for deaf people, but will it be smooth sailing on the day?.
The world’s most popular deaf blog! Lays eggs every weekday
Rebecca-Anne Withey: What two Deaf rock fans thought when they saw Limp Bizkit with Performance Interpreting
Posted on January 6, 2017
I recall seeing a photo online a while back of Anthony, lead singer in Red Hot Chili Peppers, perform next to an American SignLanguage interpreter.
Social media went crazy with people desperate to know who the interpreter was – who actually now receives a fan following in her own right. Sassy, expressive and fully owning the song, she wasn’t just an interpreter, she was a performer.
And then here in Blighty last summer, I noticed the buzzing of excitement amongst my deaf festival goer friends as they discovered their favourite artists would be performing with a – gasp! – sign language interpreter beside them.
We’ve had interpreters at musicals and theatre productions for a while now but at gigs… And rock concerts…? What’s going on?
Well, may I introduce Performance Interpreting who work across the UK delivering high quality, artistic sign language interpreters at various events… specialising – obviously – in performing arts.
Headed by full time interpreter, Marie Pascall, the company was initially set up after seeing her friend refused Sign language access to a festival she wanted to attend. Recognising there was a huge gap in the music industry, Marie set to work encouraging venues and promoters to make their events accessible to the deaf community.
The aim of Perofrmance Interpreting is to open as many doors as possible to provide quality access and social inclusion. They also work with Deaf BSL Interpreters and Performers too.
And to ensure the company is led by its clients – so to speak – Performance Interpreting has recently set up a BSL steering group in conjunction with Attitude is Everything to ensure the deaf community are truly represented and have a real impact in accessible services going forward.
And it seems all of her hard work is beginning to pay off. I was delighted to discover that the company, which was only formed a mere 18 months ago has landed some very exciting agreements.
And I’m thrilled to tell you guys about one of them.
If you ever want to attend a show at Nottingham’s Motorpoint arena, you can request an interpreter on your preferred attending date and they will provide one, courtesy of Performance Interpreting.
They also have BSL interpretations as part of their core programme too! See their access page by clicking here.
This is a world away from my concert going days when interpreters were usually just your best hearing friend that you had dragged along to tell you what the band were talking about in between the songs…
This kind of news is nothing short of groundbreaking.
And I must stress that the calibre of interpreters used by Performance Interprters is outstanding.
Performance Interpreters actually invited two of Limping Chicken’s biggest rock music fans to attend a signed interpreted Limp Bizkit & Korn concert. And to say that they were impressed by the service is an understatement.
(See lovely William and Sammi below)
These guys, both deaf sign language users, are big on their music but had never attended a sign interpreted show before. I was curious… Would they enjoy it? Here’s what they had to say..
“The interpreter was fantastic, she really learnt all the words and interpret them excellent. She was clear, and did really well with some really fast songs which I don’t think I could do!”
Judging by the amount of preparation the interpreter, Susan Merrick, had to undertake before the show, I’m impressed and relieved that it all worked out. Because contrary to assumptions, concert interpreters don’t get given a band set list. At least not until 15 minutes before showtime – at the best of times!
For a band that performs 15-20 songs this means 20+ hours of study time for the interpreter – researching, learning, revising and translating lyrics. And knowing that theres no guarantee which song will be performed and possibly new ones premiered on the night, these are interpreters of a whole different league.
William and Sammi also mentioned that the interpreter did more than just sign the words…
“She matched with the music, and swearing too. She even added the instrument’s sounds and pitch, which is really useful.”
I saw a clip of Susan performing a song by Korn and I was mesmerised by how she depicted the sounds of the instruments. The staccato. The fluidity. The overlapping tones. They were all visible. And that was when I realised that Performance Intepreters really are opening doors – not just by providing access at concerts – but by delivering artistic translations of a high standard that actually do the songs justice.
I was fortunate enough to see a few other of their interpreters in action too and I can equally vouch for their artistic excellence. After seeing them I felt like saying “Yes, finally! Someone gets it!” Because they fuse the BSL content with the lyrical meaning and their body becomes a rhythmical tool.
They have the ability to introduce music to those who perhaps would usually turn away from it. And that’s powerful stuff.
That said. It is still early days and there are still improvements and adjustments to be made. The positioning of the interpreter at the concert isn’t ideal, and sadly nowhere near the stage…
“I would have liked to be in the crowd in standing area, and the interpreter possibly to stand by the stage as I like to see how they play their instruments.
Plus where we were in seating, we were at the back of the arena, just behind the standing, we had bit of trouble of seeing the band as there were some tall people which sort of blocking the view of stage. “
I noticed that the placement of interpreters seems to differ; on some occasions they’re on stage but more than often they’re not. Personally speaking I would like the interpreter as close to the performer as possible. Which is why we – the deaf concert goers – need to speak up and work with the venues.
One person in particular who has worked with and for the deaf community remarkably well is Stephen Chaston – the Access Manager for Motorpoint Arena.
Stephen helped Motorpoint Arena to win an Outstanding Attitudes Award and the arena has now been awarded a gold standard by Attitude is Everything who monitor accessiblity. They were recognised for their commitment to and excellent delivery of accessibly services.
Stephen’s aim is for as many Deaf British Sign Language Users to enjoy as many events as possible. So I am optimistic that the placement of interpreters could be easily resolved if discussions begin and more feedback is received.
The arena does have an access page on their website and details on their award from Attitude is Everything can be found here.
Performance Interpreters can be followed on social media and on their site to keep updated on the latest accessible shows. You can also find out about other accessible arenas near you too.
Isn’t it wonderful to see so many new doors opening? Musicals, festivals, concerts, comedy, cabaret, dance…. what’s next?
And as somebody who loves to see fab-u-lous artistic deliveries of sign language, I know what I’ll be getting up to in 2017.
Strictly come dancing, sign language interpreted?! Hmm I don’t mind if I do ….
MOTORPOINT ARENA NOTTINGHAM TEAMS UP WITH PERFORMANCE INTERPRETING TO TRIAL NEW SERVICE
The Motorpoint Arena Nottingham has teamed up with Performance Interpreting to further enhance the service for Deaf British Sign Language users. The interpreting service, which includes a dedicated seating area, will be trialled at the Marvel Universe Live event on 11 September. If successful, the service will be carried out at future Arena events.
Stephen Chaston, Accessibility Officer at the Motorpoint Arena Nottingham said: “I’m very pleased to have Performance Interpreting on board with us. They have an excellent reputation with highly skilled and experienced interpreters and I’m confident they’ll deliver a fantastic service. Our long-term vision here at the Arena is to make every event as accessible as possible and I‘m proud to say we’re well on the way to achieving this.”
Dedicated seats for Deaf British Sign Language users will be located in Block 9 (rows, A, B and C) opposite the interpreter. Please refer to the Arena floor plan on our website for further information.
The Motorpoint Arena Nottingham is giving away a small number of complimentary tickets to enable the local deaf community to take part in the trial.