Shanghai boosts sign-language services on TV news
When Zhao Minghua turned on the evening news as usual, he was pleasantly surprised to see a window in the corner of the screen featuring a newsreader conveying the news in sign language.
Zhao is a Shanghai resident with a hearing impairment. "We are familiar with this sign-language interpreter, but we used to see the interpreters only on lunchtime TV news shows," he said.
"Although the window is small, it marks a big step forward in the city's service for its residents with hearing loss," wrote Zhao, sharing this small change with his hearing-impaired friends through WeChat, a popular social media platform.
Since Jan. 13, the Shanghai Media Group (SMG) has added sign-language interpretation to its two main live nighttime TV news programs to help the hearing-impaired get more of the latest news.
The senior sign-language interpreter Kou Chenzhu is equally delighted as she prepares ahead of broadcasting the evening news. Over the past five years, Kou has been mainly in charge of translating live TV news shows at lunchtime.
Kou is one of a team of nine interpreters that is trained and organized by the Shanghai Disabled Persons' Federation. The small group serves more than 90,000 hearing-impaired residents in Shanghai.
"Providing sign-language interpretation to live nighttime TV news shows is a way of showing respect for viewers with hearing loss," said Kou. She added that it is also useful for those who cannot watch live TV news programs at noon.
"In the past, some hearing-impaired people could just guess the content while watching the nighttime news," said Kou. "They had been looking forward to seeing sign-language interpretation for prime-time TV news, and now their dream has come true."
According to SMG, it first added sign-language translation to TV news shows in 2000. In March 2015, the company provided sign-language interpretation to its televised lunchtime news shows.
Regulations on the construction of a barrier-free environment in Shanghai for those members of society in need will go into effect on March 1, offering guidance on topics including sign-language translation in news programs broadcasted by its municipal TV stations.
Sun Xianzhong, an official with the Shanghai Disabled Persons' Federation, said that the live broadcast of sign-language interpretation has not only protected the basic right of the disabled to gain equal access to public information, but embodies the humanistic care of the Shanghai metropolis.
In recent days, hearing-impaired viewers have sent each other messages expressing their excitement and joy on the newly-added sign-language service. Meng Zhida, who lives in Shanghai's Jing'an District, said he hopes that sign-language interpreters will act as "silent soldiers" to share the latest accurate news with hearing-impaired people.