The British Deaf Association (BDA) is the UK’s national Deaf-led membership organisation representing Deaf people who use British Sign Language (BSL) in the UK and Irish Sign Language (ISL) in Northern Ireland.

We exist to ensure a world in which the language, culture, community, diversity and heritage of Deaf people in the UK is respected and fully protected.

We promote the advancement of human rights and equality for Deaf people by collaborating with our members and stakeholders to influence governments to access services in our own language: BSL and ISL, the first or preferred language of c.87,000 Deaf people in the UK.

The BDA are Ordinary Members of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), an International Non-Governmental Organisation in official liaison with ECOSOC, UNESCO, ILO, WHO and the Council of Europe, and the European Union of the Deaf (EUD). EUD is a full member of the European Disability Forum (EDF) and is a Regional Co-operating Member of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) to tackle issues of global importance, and also has participatory status with the Council of Europe (CoE). The WFD also has a consultative status in the United Nations and is the founding member of the International Disability Alliance (IDA).

BDA Youth, a special interest sub-committee, are members of the World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section (WFDYS) and European Union of the Deaf Youth (EUDY), represent young Deaf people across the UK.

Human rights are a set of rights inherent to every human being, regardless of their gender, religion, nationality, ethnicity, race, disability or social status, from their birth to their death. These rights are inalienable, indivisible and interrelated, and cannot be removed from the individual (UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights).

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2006 and ratified, to June 2023, by 186 UN Member States, is the latest International human rights Convention emanating from the UN. It is also one of the most ratified conventions in the UN legal system.

The motto of the CRPD is “Nothing About Us Without Us” which places persons with disabilities, including deaf people, and their representative organisations- national associations of deaf people at the forefront of the decision-making processes related to them. CRPD Article 4.3 recognises the obligation of national governments to actively consult and collaborate with national associations of deaf people for any legislation, programme and policies related to deaf people and national sign languages. This National Representative Organisation of the UK representing the Deaf and BSL community is the BDA as members of WFD and EUD.


Working with individuals or groups to empower them to have their views heard and listened to, to ensure service providers are aware of Deaf equality/rights, and to ensure that Deaf people have access to clear and full information to make informed decisions when dealing with service providers.

Deaf children and young people

Early intervention projects with children and families to offer appropriate activities and mentoring support with trained adult Deaf role models through which young Deaf people can develop skills, understand their identity and culture, and gain useful coping strategies to better manage life and educational transitions more confidently.

BSL Charter

The BSL Charter is a BDA initiative which seeks to assist public agencies to provide better access to their services for Deaf BSL communities and to engage with local BSL forums to deliver the five pledges.

BSL & Deaf Awareness

Campaigning for legal protection of BSL, raising awareness of the importance of BSL by co-ordinating BSL Awareness week, and by publishing research and policy documents.

Capacity Building

Working with local Deaf communities to develop self-help groups/forums that can negotiate with and influence local service providers.

Policy Work

Responding to public consultations and producing reports that ensures that the needs of sign language users are considered as this group is often overlooked.

Information Provision

Providing accessible information through the BDA’s website that is fully accessible in English and BSL formats.