BDA’s BSL Act Now! Campaign – BSL Bill

2021 has been a very busy year. This is what we have achieved so far:

  • Liaised with Rosie Cooper MP to produce a new British Sign Language Bill
  • Created ‘Why We Need a BSL Act’ document to help MPs and Ministers fully understand the need, in the hope that they will realise and support a BSL Bill. So far, all seems positive!
  • Helped 53 local Deaf groups to meet their local MPs – mostly Conservative MPs. We need them to support a BSL Bill
  • Worked with 8 deaf organisations: BDA as the lead, RAD, SignHealth, RNID, NDCS, Black Deaf UK, Signature, iBSL and NRCPD.

Great collaborative work, thank you!

Excitingly, we now have a definite date when Rosie Cooper MP will present the BSL Bill 2nd Reading at the House of Commons - Friday 28th January 2022.

We need you to help us NOW! Send your email letter to ask your local MP to be in the House on 28th January and VOTE for the BSL Bill to go through. Once through, it will progress to a 3rd Reading for which there is no date yet - this will be the final vote for a new BSL law!

If you would like to contact your local MP, we have created a sample letter for you to download.

Only 4 weeks to go!

Let’s work together to make 2022 a special year for the UK’s Deaf Community by gaining legal status for our language – BSL!

Happy New Year to you all

Rosie Cooper MP – BSL Bill

Here is a short video produced by BBC 2 News on Thursday morning. We, the BDA, have been closely working with Rosie Cooper MP to produce a #BritishSignLanguage Bill.

We will continually work with the Government in the hope that they will support a BSL Bill. However, we only have one month left, so please contact your local MP to support a BSL Bill on 28th January 2022.

If you still need any help or guidance, please email BSLActNow@bda.org.uk and we will help you

#BSLActNow #Deaf #SignLanguage #BSLBill

Discussion with Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP

Last night BDA representative David Buxton supported a local Deaf Community group, led by Martine Monksfield, to meet their local MP, Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP.

The group were able to share stories of their own experiences of being Deaf BSL users and talked with Sir Iain about the shortcomings of the current Equality Act, and how making ‘Reasonable Adjustments’ is not always possible for BSL.

After listening to the experiences of his Deaf constituents. Sir Iain expressed his support for the BSL Act, and expressed his intention of discussing it further with the Minister for Disabled People.

If you would like to arrange a local Deaf Community group to meet your local MP, please email BSLActNow@bda.org.uk

You can also follow @BSLActNow on Twitter or Instagram for updates.

Rosie Cooper, MP, meets with Deaf sector representatives


 

Rosie Cooper, MP, meets with Deaf sector representatives to discuss a British Sign Language Bill

On Wednesday 6th October 2021, Rosie Cooper, MP, met with representatives from the Deaf Sector to discuss a British Sign Language Bill which she will bring forward as a Private Member’s Bill in January 2022.

The aims of the British Sign Language (BSL) Bill will be to declare BSL as an official language of the United Kingdom, provide for a BSL Council that will be able to promote and advise on matters relating to the language, and mechanisms to remove the barriers faced by Deaf Sign Language users.

The BSL Act Now! Campaign, led by the British Deaf Association (BDA), who are working with several other Deaf charities and organisations whose purpose is to support the Deaf community.  The group are the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS), Royal National Institute for Deaf people (RNID), Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD), Signature, Institute of British Sign Language (iBSL), SignHealth, National Register of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD), and Black Deaf UK.

The group discussed with Rosie Cooper MP how we can best use our joint resources to build a strong case to MPs for them to support the Bill, sharing experiences of the challenges Deaf people have faced which the Bill could potentially alleviate – as well as how such an Act will enable public services and government departments to improve access and inclusion for Deaf people.

Rosie Cooper MP and the Minister for Disabled People are hosting a roundtable meeting to discuss the BSL Bill and the Equality Act. The meeting will be attended by a number of Government Departments at the ministerial level and a representative from the British Deaf Association.

We have begun creating campaign resources and support materials to provide the campaign with the best chance of success in January 2022.

Rosie Cooper MP said: “Together we are working really hard to ensure this Bill will make a real difference to Deaf sign language users lives. The roundtable with Government Ministers will be key to bringing them onside by proving that this bill is needed.
 
 

" Together we are working really hard to ensure this Bill will make a real difference to Deaf sign language users lives. "

 

To stay up to date with the BSL Bill campaign, please email: BSLActNow@bda.org.uk

Notes to editors:

 

The BSL Act Now! campaign (www.bda.org.uk/BSLActNow) is being led by the British Deaf Association (BDA) to support the Deaf community to come together and campaign for the introduction of legal recognition of British Sign Language (BSL) and to create public policy mechanisms which can remove the barriers that society places in front of Deaf BSL users.

The following organisations are supporting the campaign:

  • British Deaf Association (BDA)
  • National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS)
  • Royal National Institute for Deaf people (RNID)
  • Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD)
  • Black Deaf UK
  • SignHealth
  • Signature
  • Institute of British Sign Language (iBSL)
  • National Register of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD)

Contact:

Matthew.ford@signature.org.uk / 07519 115 781

BSL Act Now! Campaign: Latest News - 29th June 2021

#BSLActNow Campaign News

Here is a video in BSL: Sarah Olney MP for Richmond Park asked #BSL question to the Minister yesterday at the House of Commons. The Minister replied - he is calling for a roundtable meeting to discuss the #EqualityAct, mainly because Rosie Cooper MP for West Lancashire recently tabled a BSL Bill that will be pressing for the legal status of BSL, meaning public bodies needing to provide BSL support.

Email BSLActNow@bda.org.uk if you wish to give support for a BSL Act.

BSL Act Now! Campaign: News - 3rd June 2021


Latest key points as below:
  • Private Member’s Bill
    We have been working hard liaising with the first seven MPs who were drawn in the Private Member’s Bill Ballot. We are doing this because they have the best chance and the appropriate time to introduce their own Bills including a full day debate on their own Bills. The other 20 MPs will have much less time to introduce their own Bills. By 17th June 2021, we will know what Bill (topics/titles) they will introduce. Good news – one of the 20 MPs wants to meet us to discuss a BSL Bill. We will be meeting them soon and will update you.
  • BSL Act Now! Campaign – Deaf BSL Organisations Group
    RAD, RNID and SignHealth have joined the group - we are working together to achieve our ultimate goal for a BSL Act.
  • Early Day Motion
    We need your help NOW – please see the Early Day Motion 14 video outlining what you need to do. You need to write another email letter to your local MP – but please check with us first as 38 MPs have already signed Early Day Motion 14. Contact us by emailing BSLActNow@bda.org.uk and we will guide you.

Why? Early Day Motion

We want to test MPs and find out whether they really want to support a BSL Bill by calling on the Government to introduce BSL legislation. If there is very strong support - more than 330 MPs signing EDM 14 - then we will try our best to press the Prime Minister and his Minister to make an announcement to support a Private Member’s Bill - a BSL Bill. Ideally, we want cross-party support, similar to what happened with the Scottish Conservatives passing a BSL (Scotland) Bill in 2015. Earlier this year, a Welsh Conservative MP proposed a BSL Bill Motion in the Senedd which was passed without opposition.

Why? Early Day Motion

We want to test MPs and find out whether they really want to support a BSL Bill by calling on the Government to introduce BSL legislation. If there is very strong support - more than 330 MPs signing EDM 14 - then we will try our best to press the Prime Minister and his Minister to make an announcement to support a Private Member’s Bill - a BSL Bill. Ideally, we want cross-party support, similar to what happened with the Scottish Conservatives passing a BSL (Scotland) Bill in 2015. Earlier this year, a Welsh Conservative MP proposed a BSL Bill Motion in the Senedd which was passed without opposition.

Early Day Motion 14 (EDM 14) – This happened during the BDA’s Deaf Awareness Week 2021. Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, tabled EDM 14 with 5 other MPs sponsoring her as the main motion signatories. So far 38 MPs have signed in support of the EDM14 for calling the Government to introduce a BSL legislation.

Click here to view the EDM 14: Deaf Awareness Week 2021 - Early Day Motions - UK Parliament

Note: Government Ministers, Parliamentary Private Secretaries, Whips, Speaker and Deputy Speakers of the House, and Opposition Shadow Ministers cannot sign their support for an Early Day Motion. Please email to BSLActNow@bda.org.uk if you are unsure if your MP is one of them or not.

Early Day Motion 14 (EDM 14) – This happened during the BDA’s Deaf Awareness Week 2021. Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, tabled EDM 14 with 5 other MPs sponsoring her as the main motion signatories. So far 38 MPs have signed in support of the EDM14 for calling the Government to introduce a BSL legislation.

Click here to view the EDM 14: Deaf Awareness Week 2021 - Early Day Motions - UK Parliament

Note: Government Ministers, Parliamentary Private Secretaries, Whips, Speaker and Deputy Speakers of the House, and Opposition Shadow Ministers cannot sign their support for an Early Day Motion. Please email to BSLActNow@bda.org.uk if you are unsure if your MP is one of them or not.

If your local MP is Conservative

This video will assist you in sending an EDM email letter to your local Conservative MP.

You can also download a draft email letter by clicking the button below.

 

If your local MP is Conservative

This video will assist you in sending an EDM email letter to your local Conservative MP.

You can also download a draft email letter by clicking the button below.

 

If your local MP is Labour, SNP, Liberal Democrat, Plaid Cymru, Green or a Northern Ireland party.

Please watch this video to help you to send your EDM email letter to your local MP.

You can also download a draft email letter by clicking the button below.

 

If your local MP is Labour, SNP, Liberal Democrat, Plaid Cymru, Green or a Northern Ireland party.

Please watch this video to help you to send your EDM email letter to your local MP.

You can also download a draft email letter by clicking the button below.

 

Summary of what we have done so far

  • Our big thanks to our members, BSL supporters and their friends and families who all sent BSL Bill email letters to their MPs between 18th March 2021 to 20th May 2021 - the day the Deputy Speaker of the House drew 20 names out of 459 MPs for the Private Member’s Bill Ballot. Click the following link to view the PMB ballot results: Private Members' Bill ballot: 20 May 2021 - UK Parliament
  • 1,358 BSL Bill email letters were sent to local MPs.  In total, we reached 572 MPs - out of 650 MPs. That’s an 88% success rate!We know there were many more than 1,358 BSL Bill supporters, as some of you told us you forgot to copy BSLActNow@bda.org.uk in your emails to your MPs.
  • Again, MANY THANKS! This is not the end, this is the beginning of our BSL Act Now! campaign MPs hit list – we know who we can ask for help to contact their local MPs. This will help us speed up our campaign!

If you wish to be part of the MPs hit list – write and/or meet your local MP

Please email your postcode to BSLActNow@bda.org.uk and we will add your details to the MPs hit list, thank you.

 


If you wish to be part of the BSL Act Now! Campaign Deaf Community Volunteers

Please email your offer as a lead volunteer for your home area: contact your local Deaf or BSL supporters, club, group – BSLActNow@bda.org.uk

 


If you wish to be part of the BDA – to be part of much stronger ‘voice’ for the Deaf Community and BSL Act Now

Please complete our online form to become a member, thank you.

 


For Deaf Charities, Clubs, Groups and BSL supporting organisations / companies

If you want to be part of BSL Act Now! Campaign Consortium to show strong unity and collaboration, please email BSLActNow@bda.org.uk as we plan to show organisation logos on the BSL Act Now! webpage.

 

BSL Act Now! Campaign - Looking back to Day 1 – 18th March 2021


A campaign plan is vital for a winning ‘BSL Act Now’ campaign. A strong and clear plan will serve as a roadmap to achieving our ultimate goal of a BSL Act.

BDA Sign Language Week 2021 (Day 4) – Launch of BSL Act Now! Campaign – we want the key to unlock the door towards legal status for BSL - a UK-wide BSL Act

Updated Campaign News on 23rd April 2021 – number of MPs receiving BSL Bill email letters is gone up from 282 to 340

Why campaign now for a BSL Bill through a Private Member’s Bill?
 

Updated Campaign News on 20th May 2021 – Private Member’s Bill Ballot and what we will do next.

The 18th March 2003 was when the UK Government formally recognised British Sign Language as a language in its own right. It also promised to look into a legal status for BSL. Eighteen years on, we’re still waiting. Waiting for the key to the door to a BSL Act. No more. We’re not waiting any longer.

Andrew Smith MP making the announcement
on BSL recognition, London, 18th March 2003
The current government does not intend to introduce legislation for a UK-wide BSL Act as it believes the Equality Act 2010 is sufficient to protect Deaf BSL signers. There are pockets of support here and there – such as for the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015, a GCSE BSL, a Proposal for a BSL Bill in Wales and promising signs of a Sign Languages Bill for Northern Ireland.  But this is not enough. More work is needed to persuade Government Ministers realise that Deaf people who use sign language should be accorded the same legal protection as Welsh and Scottish Gaelic speakers.

Deaf people still do not have access to the same information and services that are available to the hearing population. Deaf people are forced to rely on inadequate disability discrimination legislation to access information in their own language. For example, Deaf people are denied the right to undertake jury service, service providers deny Deaf people’s requests for a BSL/English interpreter, local education authorities deny parents’ requests for BSL qualified support staff assisting Deaf children, and more.

This will be the prelude to a call for action to BSL supporters to lobby their own MPs for a UK-wide BSL Act. From 18th March to 20th May 2021, 1,356 Deaf and BSL supporters wrote to their MPs – 572 in total - to ask if they would be willing to introduce a BSL Bill should their name be drawn out of the Private Member’s Bill ballot. This Ballot took place on 20th May 2021, drawing 20 names out of 459 MPs. We have contacted most of these MPs and hopefully one of them will decide to introduce a BSL Bill. (The decision will be known on 16th June 2021.) We are now calling upon Deaf and BSL supporters to send another email letter to their MPs about the Early Day Motion (see above). This is all part of our planning to lobby MPs to support a BSL Bill, work on strengthening our campaign, and, continuing our quest for a BSL Act.