The British Deaf Association were glad to see people campaigning for a British Sign Language (BSL) Act on Channel 4 (see video replay on YouTube - tap here).
The BDA has been advocating for legal recognition of sign language as well as access to bilingual education for many years.
We have been asked on Twitter whether we have been involved in this particular campaign, but the answer is no. We have offered to support, lobby, and meet with people involved in this particular campaign about the BSL Act, but regretfully they did not take up our offer. This is disappointing as the BDA is the leading Deaf-led organisation in the UK, and a lot of evidence is collected from our own members.
The BDA have already encouraged people to sign up to the ‘BSL in the National Curriculum’ petition, and hope it gets to a 100,000 signatures.
To recap on the BDA’s work to date:
- We have worked at local, national, and international levels.
- We have worked with over 30 local government departments, city and county councils, and health trusts who have signed up to our BSL Charter. This is having a positive impact on BSL language access within these organisations. The Greater London Assembly have also recently agreed to sign the charter.
- Our work with the Scottish government with the BSL (Scotland) Act and the first BSL National Plan has set a brilliant example for the rest of the UK.
- We have worked with Northern Ireland to complete its consultation and framework discussions for a sign language Act.
- We are working with Welsh Assembly to create a similar consultation and framework.
- The BDA gave evidence in the House of Lords, and for the first time BSL was used in a select committee.
- We are currently working with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness to look at the legal status of BSL.
- The BDA have twice given evidence to the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities committee in Geneva about sign language rights.
- We have worked for many years with the Department for Work and Pensions on Access to Work, Personal Independence Payments, etc., and we are seeing some positive changes. We are now involved in raising awareness about the assessments and criteria.
All of this work is documented, so we find it a shame that others have decided not to work with us. The real Deaf community is being left behind.
A sign language Act is not about needs, it’s about rights; with no language rights, I have no human rights. I ask all politicians to work with the BDA, to ensure our human rights and language rights are granted.