BSL Act 2022 update


Tuesday 28th June

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?

  1. The BSL Act 2022 will come into force on 28 June 2022.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. A BSL Alliance could be made up of national, regional and local organisations across Great Britain.
  5. The BDA’s mission is to Preserve, Protect and Promote BSL. We will closely monitor the implementation of the BSL Act.

We have a BSL Act 2022!


Wednesday 28th April

The 2021–22 session of the UK Parliament was brought to a close ("prorogued") today. MPs & Lords will return for a new session on the 10th May. The #BSLBill received Royal Assent, meaning it has become an Act of Parliament. The #BSLAct is now part of UK law!

More: www.parliament.uk

You can also rewatch our live coverage of the day's events in full at bda.org.uk/live-from-westminster

Livestream Event - Westminster


Wednesday 27th April

Since we are not able to physically gather together on the 27th of April for the 3rd Reading by House of Lord to (hopefully) celebrate an historical event, we will do a Livestreaming event instead.

We know it is very important for the Deaf Community to be part of the BSL Bill celebration; therefore we ask all deaf charity / organisations to open their doors to the deaf locally and celebrate it at their venue while watching our livestream on their TV.

Our Livestream programme will be available to watch via our Facebook page; we will announce more details soon!

BSL Rally: Live at Trafalgar Square


Rewatch the footage of the BSL Rally at Trafalgar Square

What an amazing turn-out we had yesterday for our BSL Rally on Trafalgar Square! We’d like to thank all of you who came along to support us and who tuned in online.

In case you missed anything, here is the full livestream showing all the action from yesterday's rally.

#BSLActNow #SLW2022 #BSLBringsUsTogether

BSL Rally - NEW VENUE!


Friday 18th March - 11.30am - 2.30pm

Due to the growing numbers who have registered to attend the BSL Rally on Friday 18 March, we have decided to move it from Parliament Square Garden to Trafalgar Square. The date and time (11.30am – 2.30pm) remain unchanged.

The debate in Parliament will be livestreamed on a large screen for all to see, and there will also be an exciting programme of speakers from the Deaf community on stage.

I hope that you will be able to join us to celebrate Sign Language Week and show your support for the BSL Bill. If you are planning to attend, please register via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bsl-rally-trafalgar-square-tickets-277582345267

Don’t forget to bring colourful gloves and bring along your banners and warm drinks! We hope to see you there!

BSL Rally


Friday 18th March - 11.30am - 2.30pm

18 March is an important day for the Deaf community in the UK. It marks the 19th anniversary of the date British Sign Language was first recognized as a language in its own right by the UK government.

We are now 19 years later, and we hope that this year we will finally see a BSL Act which gives legal status to British Sign Language and required the government to put in place guidance for providing public services and information to Deaf people who use BSL.

So 18 March will be an important day. It also coincides with Sign Language Week 2022. The theme for this year is: "BSL Brings Us Together!"

We are going to host another big BSL Rally outside Parliament, to celebrate our beautiful, unique, visual language BSL and show the world that BSL does indeed bring us together!

We hope you can join us. We will be at Parliament Square Garden opposite the Houses of Parliament from 11:30am – 2:30pm.

All welcome! We will have secure areas for children and school groups, elderly people and those in wheelchairs, and Deafblind people with Usher’s.

If you are planning to come, please register on Eventbrite so we know how many are coming: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bsl-rally-parliament-square-garden-tickets

Please wear your brightest gloves, warm clothes and bring along colourful banners to show your love of BSL.

We are also looking for lots of volunteers to be event stewards. Please get in touch with us at: bda@bda.org.uk if you would like to volunteer.

We hope to see lots of you there at this very special event!

House of Commons – BSL Bill Committee


Wednesday 23rd February - 10am to 11.25am

Hello

My name is David Buxton and I thought I’d share some information with you.

Tomorrow, there is an event happening in Parliament with the BSL Bill committee gathering to discuss the Bill. MPs will gather to look through and discuss each line of the Bill. It will take place at 10am – 11.25am. It will be shown live on Parliament TV with a BSL interpreter:

https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/1b37725a-faac-4263-9dbb-083fdf5075f5

BSL Bill passes 2nd reading: UK Deaf community celebrates important step towards legal status of British Sign Language


London, Friday 28 January 2022

Deaf people around the UK are celebrating a vital step towards the legal recognition of British Sign Language (BSL), after the BSL Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons today.

BSL is the first language of 87,000 Deaf people in the UK. The language was formally recognised by the UK government in 2003 but still does not have full legal status, meaning many Deaf people are unable to access essential information and services in their first language.

Campaigners – including Strictly Come Dancing 2021 winner, Deaf actress Rose Ayling-Ellis – and charities supporting the BSL Act Now! campaign are celebrating the victory and calling upon MPs and ministers to get the Bill over the line.

The Bill still has to complete its passage through the House of Commons and the House of Lords. If passed, a BSL Act would increase both the official status and public awareness of BSL. Government Departments and public bodies would also be required to adhere to and report their performance against new guidance, setting out how they must meet the needs of BSL users.

The Bill was presented as a Private Member’s Bill by Labour MP Rosie Cooper, who is a Child of Deaf Adults (CODA) and considers BSL her first language. The Bill was passed unanimously.

Rosie has worked closely with Deaf sector organisations from the BSL Act Now! Campaign coalition, led by the British Deaf Association, including RNID, the Royal Association for Deaf People, SignHealth, National Deaf Children’s Society, Black Deaf UK, Signature, iBSL and the National Register of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD).

Speaking to The Big Issue this month, Rose Ayling-Ellis said that achieving legal recognition for BSL would be ‘emotional’, as ‘a lot of people don’t realise how much of a fight the deaf community have had’.
 
David Buxton, Chair of the British Deaf Association, said:

“This Bill has been nineteen years in the making. 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 Deaf people are finally able to access information and services and achieve their potential on an equal basis with their fellow hearing citizens. I now call upon Ministers and MPs to do everything their can to get the British Sign Language Bill to Royal Assent in this parliamentary session.”
 
Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive of RNID, said:

“This is a momentous day for the Deaf community where we celebrate moving a massive step closer to full legal recognition for BSL. We are thrilled that the Bill has been approved in principle by MPs and will now move onto the next stages of the legislative process.

“The Bill includes important mechanisms which will provide government departments and public services with guidance explaining how they are required to meet the needs of BSL users. This will help ensure BSL users are fully included in society.

“We celebrate with the Deaf community today and we hope parliamentarians will now give Rosie Cooper all the support she needs to get this Bill passed into legislation and give BSL and deaf people the recognition they deserve.”
 
Lindsay Foster, Executive Director at Signature, said:

“Today is a great day for Deaf people across the UK as we move forward towards seeing BSL getting full legal recognition.

“We are proud to have played a part in the campaign, which today has made a huge step in the right direction to breaking down communication barriers for all, which the sector has pulled together to achieve.

“We look forward to continuing working with colleagues across the sector to get this through the final stages and this along with the continued positive developments towards GCSE in BSL will make a significant difference to so many people’s lives.”
 
Rosie Cooper MP, said:

“I am delighted that the Bill has passed this huge hurdle. Deaf people have been waiting for 230 years for the legal recognition of BSL, and that goal is now in sight.

“I am glad the Government have agreed to support this Bill, which I hope will allow it safe passage to be made into law.”
 
ENDS

To request an interview with a spokesperson, please contact Lauren Harris, PR & Communications Consultant, British Deaf Association: 07861 035699 / lauren.harris@bda.org.uk.

For more information, please contact: Rebekah.mckinstry@rnid.org.uk.

Notes to editors:

BSL Act Now! Campaign

The BSL Act Now! Campaign has been led by the British Deaf Association (BDA), which is working with several other national Deaf charities and organisations whose purpose is to support the Deaf community.

The group are 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.

These organisations represent the diversity of the Deaf community in the UK. We are united in calling for a BSL Act to achieve legal status for British Sign Language as the primary language of the Deaf community in the United Kingdom.

Achieving legal recognition of BSL through an Act of Parliament (a BSL Bill) in the UK would be a huge step forward in terms of improving Deaf people’s quality of life, their inclusion and autonomy in British society, educational and professional opportunities, and even their health outcomes.

Find out more here: bda.org.uk/bsl-act-now

What is British Sign Language?

British Sign Language (BSL) is the language of the Deaf community in Great Britain, which has its own culture, traditions, history and values. Signing members of the Deaf community describe themselves as ‘Deaf’ with a capital ‘D’ to express their pride in their Deaf identity (as opposed to lower-case “deaf”, which focuses on the medical condition of deafness rather than the cultural and linguistic identity of a Deaf person, a.k.a. Deafhood.)

BSL involves a combination of hand shapes and movements, body movements, lip patterns, facial expressions and eye gaze. It has its own grammar, vocabulary and syntax and is distinct from English and from other sign languages such as American or Irish Sign Language.

British Sign Language is a full, rich language in its own right that is part of a unique cultural heritage and one of the UK’s indigenous languages.

How to learn British Sign Language

The best way to learn BSL is to take a course taught by a qualified BSL tutor who is fluent in the language. Most BSL tutors are Deaf or native signers.

BSL courses are held in colleges, universities, schools, deaf clubs, community centres and online. Whilst some BSL courses offer a very basic introduction to BSL, we recommend you follow a course leading to certification by the awarding bodies Signature and the Institute of British Sign Language (iBSL).

You can find out more about centres offering BSL qualifications in your area by visiting their websites.

BSL Bill provides an opportunity for sign language to finally achieve legal status in the UK

On Friday 28 January 2022, Labour MP Rosie Cooper will bring forward - through a Private Member’s Bill - her British Sign Language (BSL) Bill for its second reading in Parliament.

If the Bill passes into law, a BSL Act would secure the legal status and increase public awareness of BSL. Government Departments and public bodies would also be required to adhere to new guidance, setting out how they must meet the needs of the estimated 87,000 BSL users in the UK.

Should the Bill pass the second reading on 28 January, it will go through to committee stage in February and then a final (third) reading in March. If passed, a BSL Act will mark a historic milestone for Deaf people across the United Kingdom.

If BSL were to finally receive recognition and legal protection, charities and organisations supporting the BSL Act Now! campaign hope it would lead to wider change across society, giving Deaf people to full and equal access to education, employment, public services such as the NHS, opportunities to follow and participate in political debates and issues, sit on a jury, and play a greater role in their local communities.

Across the UK, we see examples every day of the challenges that Deaf people face, from Francesca Bussey - who had to tell her own father in hospital that he was dying as a qualified BSL interpreter was not provided - to Deaf schoolboy and campaigner Daniel Jilling’s - who was unable to do a GCSE in his preferred language, BSL, as it is not offered as an option in school. Even the Prime Minister’s Office failed to provide a BSL interpreter for public COVID-19 announcements, causing thousands of deaf people to miss out on vital health information which was ruled to be a breach of the Equality Act.

The British Deaf Association (BDA) launched the BSL Act Now! campaign on 18 March 2021 as part of Sign Language Week. The campaign called for Deaf people to write to their MPs, asking for them to introduce a BSL Bill should their name be drawn out of the Private Member’s Bill ballot. Nearly 90% of MPs received a letter from their Deaf constituents.

In June 2021, Rosie Cooper’s name was drawn, and she confirmed she would take forward a BSL Bill. Cooper’s parents were both Deaf and her first language was BSL.

David Buxton, Chair for the British Deaf Association said:

“18 March 2003 was when the UK Government first formally recognised British Sign Language as a language in its own right. It also promised to investigate a legal status for BSL. Nineteen years on, we’re still waiting. Enough is enough! We are tired of being excluded from playing a full role in society.

“Deaf people still do not have access to the same essential information and services that are available to the hearing population. The Equality Act does not cover linguistic rights. We are forced to rely on inadequate disability discrimination legislation to access information in our own language.

“British Sign Language is an indigenous language of the UK and should be accorded the same legal protection as Welsh and Scottish Gaelic.”

Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive at RNID, said:

“RNID and our supporters know how important it is to be part of the BSL Act Now! campaign, which we hope will secure full legal recognition for British Sign Language. BSL is the first language of 87,000 Deaf people in the UK, and this Bill represents a unique opportunity to recognise their language, history and culture, and help ensure BSL users are fully included in society.

“We’re pleased to be alongside other charities working with Deaf people in the fight to bring about this momentous change. We hope parliamentarians will support Rosie Cooper to get the Bill over the line and give Deaf people the recognition they deserve.”

Nine Deaf sector organisations have come together representing the diversity of the Deaf community in the UK. They are united in calling for a BSL Act to achieve legal status for British Sign Language as the primary language of the Deaf community in the United Kingdom.

In late 2021, Deaf trailblazer Rose Ayling-Ellis’ glittering success on BBC Strictly Come Dancing got British Sign Language into every newspaper, every TV channel and on radio stations across the country. It started a conversation and opened many people’s eyes to the existence of British Sign Language and the obstacles faced every day by Deaf people in the UK. Rose’s achievement showed that Deaf people can achieve anything when those obstacles are removed – for example, by providing a qualified BSL interpreter.

Rose Ayling-Ellis said in this month’s The Big Issue:

“I’m backing [the Bill] because this is my language. The fact that my country doesn’t see it that way is really sad and means we don’t get the respect we deserve, and the language deserves”.

“BSL is not an official language, legally, in this country. Which is outrageous. Because it is such a beautiful, rich language with its own structure, its own grammar, its own slang. It’s even got accents.”

On Friday 28 January, BSL Act Now! is holding a rally on Parliament Square Garden, where we encourage the Deaf community and their hearing allies to come to and show their support for the Bill. All are welcome to come along and show their support for the Bill between 11:30am and 2:30pm.

We are also asking everyone to write to their MP asking them to support the second reading of the bill on Friday 28 January, share stories of the challenges they may have faced due to lack of access to public services in BSL and raise awareness by sharing photos on social media with the hashtags #BSLBill and #BSLActNow.

This Bill presents a real opportunity for change, to break down communication barriers and to give Deaf people the recognition, inclusion, and equality that they deserve.

END

For press & media enquiries, please Lauren Harris - PR & Communications Consultant at Lauren.Harris@bda.org.uk

 

Note to editors

 

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.