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Deaf people who use British Sign Language as their first or preferred language will soon be able to contact The Film and TV Charity’s Support Line (This is made available by Health Assured and presented with an orange webchat icon at the top of the page, as well as a phone number) and speak to an advisor in their native language, the charity has confirmed.
Currently, people working behind the scenes in film, TV and cinema can access the charity’s services, including financial guidance and support, the Bullying Advice Service, access to legal advice, and to a range of options aimed at improving mental health and wellbeing, by calling the Support Line on 0800 054 0000 or by using the Live Chat function on The Film and TV Charity website. These services are both available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The new BSL service will allow users to speak to a BSL-trained advisor in real time by selecting this option in Live Chat. If the BSL advisor is unavailable, users will be given the option of booking an appointment between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Anyone accessing Live Chat outside of these hours will still be able to book an appointment.
Talking about the new service, Manie Moolman, Service Delivery Manager at the charity, said:
“We are constantly seeking ways to make our support services as accessible and inclusive as possible, and the addition of support for people who speak British Sign Language is an important step along that road. As the service gets up and running in the coming weeks, we would welcome any feedback from the Deaf community that would help us to improve our offering.”
Final testing of the new BSL service is underway and anyone wishing to access it is encouraged to follow @filmtvcharity on social media channels for confirmation of when the facility is up and running.
The move comes as the charity also confirms that 15% of its grants budgets are now ring-fenced for disabled applicants.
The rationale for that figure comes from a desire to redress a deficit in support for disabled colleagues and has been arrived at by considering The Office for National Statistics’ 2017 Labour Force data which indicated that 14% of the working population have a ‘work-limiting health problem or disability’ and equivalent 2019 data from ScreenSkills which showed 10% of the industry workforce met the same definition.
The decision follows a similar announcement earlier in the year to ring-fence 30% of grants budgets for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic applicants as the charity seeks to level the playing field for people from under-represented groups working in the film, TV and cinema sector. In both cases, any under-performance against those targets will see funds held in reserve for work to support these beneficiaries.