The British Deaf Association (BDA) is delighted with today’s result - unanimous cross-party support for the British Sign Language (BSL) Bill on its second reading in the House of Commons.
We would like to thank Rosie Cooper MP for putting the Bill forward, Minister for Disabled People Chloe Smith for supporting it, all of the MPs who voted in favour of the Bill, and all of the Deaf organisations and individuals who have campaigned tirelessly to persuade Parliament that this Bill is necessary.
The BSL Bill has been nineteen years in the making, since BSL was first acknowledged as a language in its own right by the UK Government on 18 March 2003.
Sadly, that statement was not accompanied by any legal protection for BSL users, meaning Deaf people in Britain ever since have had a daily fight on their hands to access information and public services and to achieve their potential on an equal basis with their fellow hearing citizens.
Enough is enough.
Today, Parliament has recognised that this injustice must stop. No more discrimination. No more exclusion.
Deaf people in Britain never gave up hope that their language would one day be not only recognised in law, but also protected and promoted so that many more people learn this beautiful and fascinating language. It is our hope that one day, BSL will be taught in every school in the UK so that it is no longer a “foreign language” to our fellow citizens.
I now call upon Ministers and MPs to do everything in their power to get the British Sign Language Bill to Royal Assent in this parliamentary session and deliver long- overdue recognition, inclusion and equality to the Deaf community in Britain.
BSL Act Now!