Did you know that although British Sign Language has been recognised as an “official” language by the UK government since 2003, it does not yet have any legal status or protection?
While the government recognises British Sign Language as an official language, the issue lies with a lack of legal standing and The Equality Act not covering linguistic rights, leaving thousands of D/deaf people relying on inadequate legislation to access information in their own language.
The British Deaf Association has been lobbying for official governmental status for British Sign Language (BSL) since the early 1980s, calling for “equal access to services for sign language users and removing many of the commonplace barriers that they currently face.”
With the hope to secure full legal recognition for British Sign Language within UK law, the organisation launched their BSL Act Now! Campaign in March 2021 as part of Sign Language week; urging D/deaf people and their hearing allies to write to local MP’s asking them to introduce a BSL Bill.
On Friday 28 January 2022, Labour MP Rosie Cooper will bring forward her BSL Bill for its second reading in Parliament. If the Bill passes into law, a BSL Act would mark a huge milestone for D/deaf people across the UK and a fantastic step in the right direction for equality.
Not only would the Act safeguard the languages’ legal status, but it would lead to wider changes and improvements across society – giving D/deaf people full and equal access to education, employment, public services and providing them with an opportunity to have a voice within political debates, issues and even serve as jurors – offering everyone the same access to participate wholly within local communities.
For more information about the BSL Bill and how you can support BSL Act Now! visit BSL Act Now! Campaign (@BSLActNow) / Twitter