A deaf woman has won a claim against the government after a judge found a lack of sign language at two Covid briefings “served to disempower, to frustrate and to marginalise”.

Katie Rowley, 36, from Leeds, started court action after the sessions went ahead without interpreters on screen.

The government denied breaching its legal obligation to make broadcasts accessible to deaf people.

In his ruling, a judge said the lack of provision constituted discrimination.

Ms Rowley launched the court action against Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove in relation to the “data briefings” on 21 September and 12 October 2020.

She had argued that being unable to access the official information had caused her stress and affected her wellbeing.

Finding in her favour, Mr Justice Fordham said: “The lack of provision – the provision of subtitles only – was a failure of inclusion, suggestive of not being thought about, which served to disempower, to frustrate and to marginalise.”

Though he agreed with Ms Rowley’s claim in respect of both, the judge said subsequent briefings were not in breach of equality legislation.

The level of damages awarded to the claimant would be assessed by a county court judge, he added.

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