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UK Covid-19 inquiry must include experiences of deaf people and people with hearing loss

The UK Covid-19 Inquiry has been set up to examine the UK’s pandemic response and to ensure that the UK is better prepared to respond to future pandemics. 

The government have opened a public consultation on the terms of reference, which set out what the inquiry will look into and what it should do. 

The consultation about the terms of reference opened on 11 March and closes on 7 April. You can read the terms of reference and have your say on the UK Covid-19 inquiry website.

RNID wants our supporters to participate in the consultation, to ensure that the experiences of deaf people, people with hearing loss and tinnitus are represented. 

What we say about the inquiry and its terms of reference 

Roger Wicks, Associate Director for Policy and Campaigns at RNID said:  

“RNID welcomes the launch of the UK Covid-19 inquiry and supports the broad remit set out in its draft terms of reference. We encourage our supporters to participate in the current consultation about the terms of reference, to ensure the inquiry fully explores the experience of deaf people, people with hearing loss and tinnitus and of people with disabilities more widely.  

“We hope there is a genuine commitment to examining the disproportionate and destructive impact the pandemic had on disabled people. While we welcome the inquiry’s focus on people with ‘protected characteristics’, disabled people were often an afterthought in the response to the virus. This must not happen in the inquiry, and disabled people should be explicitly mentioned in the terms of reference, so they can be assured that their experience will be fully explored and the necessary lessons learned. 

“As well as talking about people who are clinically at risk, we believe the terms of reference should mention people who were at risk because they are not fully included in society. Many deaf people and people with hearing loss were not clinically vulnerable, but didn’t have access to public health information because it wasn’t delivered in an accessible way. This was especially true for BSL users, who missed out on essential public health messages which were not translated, putting them at greater risk.  

“The inquiry must examine the accessibility of public facing information during the pandemic from the Government and NHS. And the inquiry itself must be fully accessible to deaf people and people with hearing loss, including BSL users who want to view information or submit a response in BSL.

“We are encouraged by the inquiry’s promised focus on the impact of the pandemic on disabled people. To deliver on this promise, we would urge the inquiry to consult widely on its terms of reference and, during the inquiry, to proactively include disabled people’s organisations, disability charities and disabled people themselves to ensure their voices are heard.” 

You can read the terms of reference and have your say on the UK Covid-19 inquiry website.


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