The BSL Act Now! Campaign was led by the British Deaf Association (BDA), working collaboratively with other deaf organisations such as RNID, Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD), Signature, Institute of British Sign Language (iBSL), SignHealth, the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS), National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD), and Black Deaf UK. These organisations represent the diversity of the Deaf community in the UK. Together, we successfully campaigned for the BSL Act 2022 which comes into force on Tuesday 28th June 2022.
The Act will create greater recognition and understanding of BSL, and inclusion and equality for BSL users by:
- Legally recognising BSL as a language for England, Wales, and Scotland.
- Requiring government departments to report on how they are promoting and facilitating the use of BSL.
- Providing guidance to government departments and public bodies on how to meet the needs of people who use BSL as their first or preferred language.
Now that we have the BSL Act 2022, we will continue working with the other organisations involved in the campaign to ensure the Government meets their commitments to the Act. This includes:
- Establishing a non-statutory Advisory Board where representatives of the Deaf community can advise public services
- Increasing the number of registered interpreters
- Improving Access to Work provision for claimants and employers.
Timeline of the BSL Act
- 18 March 2003: UK Government first formally recognised BSL as a language. It also promised to investigate a legal status for BSL.
- 18 May 2021: BDA launched the BSL Act Now! campaign with support from across the sector.
- 16 June 2021: The BSL Bill was introduced into the House of Commons by the Labour MP, Rosie Cooper. Rosie is a Child of Deaf Adults (CODA) herself, considers BSL her first language, and is well placed to understand the barriers that BSL users face.
- 18 March 2022: An estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people attended a rally in Trafalgar Square, London, and the Bill completed its passage through the House of Commons unopposed.
- 27 April 2022: The Bill completed its passage through the House of Lords unopposed and is set to become law.
- 28 April 2022: The BSL Bill is given Royal Assent and becomes the BSL Act 2022.
What happens next?
- The BSL Act 2022 will come into force on 28 June 2022.
- The BDA will host a Zoom webinar on the 28 June 2022 to explain what happens next and to answer questions from the Deaf community. You can register for this webinar by going to bda.org.uk/bsl-act-day
- The BDA will be consulting with the BSL Core Group about the establishment of a BSL Alliance to provide support to the non-statutory Advisory Board.
- A BSL Alliance could be made up of national, regional and local organisations across Great Britain.
- The BDA’s mission is to Preserve, Protect and Promote BSL. We will closely monitor the implementation of the BSL Act.