We have sent a big thank you to BBC Bitesize for adding more subtitles to the video clips shown on their free online learning resource.

Our School Council contacted the BBC in December because subtitles for the majority of classroom video clips were unavailable and not meeting the needs of deaf students.

They rallied support from their fellow pupils, school Governors, Trustees, staff and parents, who wrote letters to Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC in support of adding more subtitling to BBC Bitesize video clips.

The free BBC Bitesize website brings together the BBC’s education content which covers all the main curriculum subjects, and thousands of curriculum-mapped video clips for secondary and primary classrooms. Its mission is to provide everything a pupil needs for homework, coursework and exam revision in a memorable and entertaining way.

Exeter Deaf Academy English Teacher, Deb Thomas explained ‘The BBC is leading as an accessibility provider of online content. BBC Bitesize is a brilliant example of technology enabling learning beyond the established boundaries of school, engaging students in creative school-focussed activities’.

Deb continued ‘With examinations looming, BBC Bitesize is a great revision tool. For instance, there is a wonderful Bitesize resource for GCSE English which explains the key points of Shakespeare really well through humour and highly visual film clips that are memorable. Without subtitles I would interpret these videos in the classroom using sign language but it loses the entertaining style of presentation and comedy timing that BBC Bitesize achieves so well.’

Year 9 pupil and elected Chair of the School Council, Alex, rallied support in school assembly and the School Council worked together to get this changed.
Alex said, ‘BBC Bitesize is really helpful to hearing students. It gives ideas on how to do well in lessons and explains things to students in a good way, sometimes funny too. But we couldn’t revise using BBC Bitesize because it was not Deaf friendly and that’s not fair’.

The School Council also contacted local MP Ben Bradshaw who kindly got in touch with the BBC to reinforce their appeal.

MP for Exeter, Ben Bradshaw said, ‘I’m so pleased the BBC listened to and are acting on our concerns. I’d like to congratulate students and staff at the Exeter Deaf Academy for their campaign.’

Exeter Deaf Academy Head of School, Keith Stevens said, ‘The expectation on Deaf students is the same as hearing students, to leave school with a minimum 4 GSCEs at grade C or above. Nationally, 58.9% of deaf students fail to achieve this compared to 35.8% of hearing students. Deaf young people already have to work doubly hard at their GCSEs, so not having access to the same quality of revision resources as hearing students could be a contributing factor for this difference. Congratulations are in order to the BBC for helping to address this’.

Editor for BBC Schools, Rebekka Campbell responded, ‘The BBC takes provision for its deaf and hearing impaired audiences very seriously. All new Bitesize clips are now subtitled as a matter of course and we’ve also added subtitles to 650 older clips in the collection’.

Rebekka added, ‘Much of our interactive content on Bitesize is fully subtitled, and our newer, specially-commissioned video content is also subtitled or accompanied by a transcript. The majority of our classroom clips are not subtitled yet but we our working to address this now. Our work is ongoing and we offer our sincerest apologies for the frustration this causes’.

English Teacher, Deb Thomas summed up by saying, ‘This will make a real difference to the lives of deaf young people across the country. I’m really proud of our students for challenging this issue’.