The BBC have confirmed today that any televised coverage of fireworks displays during New Year celebrations will include subtitles for the hearing-impaired. The move comes after the broadcaster received a raft of complaints from deaf viewers, claiming that they couldn't fully enjoy the November 5th displays while unaware of the sounds the rockets were making.
Coverage of New Year displays will now include text along the bottom of the screen, with commentary such as 'Whoosh! Bang! Bangbangbangbangbangbang!' so that deaf viewers can enjoy the spectacular events every bit as much as their fully hearing-able counterparts. Plans along the same lines from the company arranging the New Year's eve show in Hyde Park, to implement live sign language translations, hit a snag when there were arguments over the correct sign for 'Fsssssssst!'.
Malcolm Shore performed the sign language for a trial firework display. 'We didn't want the public to notice the trial so we performed it in Kensington, where everyone is too cynical to look up. Malcolm was a whirling mass of visual information, he was doing really well until two Catherine wheels were lit simultaneously. Such frantic attempts to repeatedly sign 'eeeeeee', combined with an acrylic Christmas jumper, inevitably led to a fire.'
Malcolm apologized later for using quite so many expletives as he tried to sign for help. But deaf viewers agreed he'd put on a smashing display. 'I spent more time watching Malcolm than the actual fireworks. I didn't think it possible to extinguish fire with the sign for water, but Malcolm went out of his way to keep us informed. He really put himself out.'
The organisers are refusing to let the setback get them down, and still believe that the main event will go with a bang. 'We've had some problems in the trials admittedly, but we're confident we can get them ironed out in time for the big one. And our audio descriptions for blind customers has been going very well in warm up shows.'
Not everybody has been convinced by the audio descriptions however, with one customer particularly unimpressed by the commentary of, 'Ok the rocket's gone up, really high. It's exploded, red sparks everywhere, now green, now blue, purple, now back to red again. One has fallen over and is pointing into the crowd. People are starting to panic. And your dog has just shit itself.'
[A joint presentation from VCG (subtitles) and waylandsmithy (sign language)]