Wed. Oct 5th, 2022
  • The government backs Bill’s next step to make British Sign Language (BSL) a recognised language in GB
  • The British Sign Language Bill will benefit more than 150,000 BSL signers
  • The Third Reading of the British Sign Language Bill takes place today (Friday 18 March 2022)

The British Sign Language Bill, a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Rosie Cooper MP, will, if passed into law, recognise BSL as a language of England, Wales and Scotland in its own right.

It will be supported by a duty on the Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to regularly report on what each relevant government department has done to promote or facilitate the use of British Sign Language in its communications with the public.

The Bill also places a requirement on the DWP Secretary of State to issue guidance to ministerial departments on the promotion and facilitation of BSL.

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Chloe Smith MP said:

We know many D/deaf people can experience social isolation and face reduced access to work and education because of barriers in communicating their basic needs and aspirations.

Legally recognising BSL will create a more inclusive and accessible society, improving the lives of D/deaf people and helping public services to get it right.

Rosie Cooper MP said:

This Bill is all about improving the lives of deaf people and the Minister and I have worked together in strengthening it and achieving cross-party approval.

I am confident that with the support of MPs across all parties today, we can get this Bill passed and start making positive steps to give deaf people equal access to public services.

David Buxton, Chair of the British Deaf Association said:

The BSL Bill presents a real opportunity for change, to finally break down avoidable communication barriers and to give Deaf people and their language – BSL – the recognition, inclusion, and equality that they deserve.

If the BSL Bill passes into law, we are ready to work hand-in-hand with the UK government to redesign public services that meet the unique needs of the 151,000 people who have British Sign Language as their first or preferred language.

We also hope that the legal recognition of BSL will encourage many more people across the UK to learn British Sign Language and go on to become interpreters, bilingual professionals and allies of the Deaf community. BSL can bring us all together as a society.

Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive at RNID, said:

We at RNID, our supporters and the wider Deaf community are delighted that …….


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