We want the key to unlock the door towards legal status for BSL – our language - via a UK-wide BSL Act. BSL Act Now! Find out more

BSL Act Now! Campaign: Latest 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.