Legal status of BSL/ISL

After years of campaigning by the deaf community, BSL and ISL were officially recognised as minority languages in Northern Ireland in March 2004 for about 4,500 Deaf sign language users of which 3,000 are BSL users, and 1,500 are ISL users.

Unfortunately, there is still no official legal status for BSL / ISL in Northern Ireland.

Useful links:

Official Report: Minutes of Evidence Report - Northern Ireland Assembly - 13 November 2014


Legal status of BSL

Mark Griffin - Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP), lodged a draft proposal on 27th July 2012 for a Bill to promote the use of British Sign Language (BSL) by requiring the Scottish Ministers and relevant public authorities to prepare and publish BSL plans.

Mr Griffin launched the consultation on the BSL (Scotland) Bill on Monday 30th July 2012 and it ran until the extended date of 7th November 2012. The consultations was available in BSL - see video clips on Mark Griffin's YouTube.

At the close of the consultation, 1,192 responses were received. The number is considerably higher than the traditional number of responses to Members Bills, which averages around 40.

On 17th July 2013, one third of Scotland's 129 MSPs signed up to give the bill their support. With 43 MSPs supporting the bill, this far exceeds the requirement for 18 members to back a bill for it to pass to a parliamentary committee. The BSL bill was then assigned to a committee by the parliament's Presiding Officer.

The British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill was introduced in the Parliament on 29th October 2014 by Mark Griffin MSP.


Legal status of BSL

In January 2004, BSL was recognised by the Welsh Assembly Government as a language in its own right for about 4,000 Deaf people living in Wales. Although no legal status for BSL in Wales.

Useful links:

Deffo! launch a petition ‘Access to BSL for all’ in Wales