Sunday 18th March marks the 15th anniversary of the official recognition of British Sign Language (BSL) by the last Labour government. This is a date to celebrate with great pride, as it gave deaf people the basic recognition they deserve.
But that there is still a way to go until BSL is equal under the law. The only way to give the deaf community the equality and recognition they deserve is to bring a British Sign Language bill before parliament to address all these issues.
There is a significant BSL community in the UK. It is estimated that there are about 9 million people in the UK who are Deaf or hard of hearing. There are an estimated 151,000 BSL users, 87,000 of whom are deaf.
Yet recently in Parliament, on a day when history was made at the Oscars with The Silent Child winning best live action short film and actress Rachel Shenton using sign language in her acceptance speech, the government failed to take the simple step of accepting BSL as a GCSE qualification.
Dawn Butler, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities and Ambassador for Harrow and Brent United Deaf Club has pledged that the next Labour government will introduce legislation for a BSL Act, which would also give British Sign Language full legal status
“On this important anniversary, we hope many more MPs, organisations and the public at large will pledge their support to this important campaign to enshrine the rights of BSL users into law."
Asif Iqbal MBE, President of Harrow and Brent United Deaf Club, in full support, said: “It takes tremendous effort for Dawn Butler MP as our Ambassador, sharing a powerful message and fighting for our right to have BSL as a legal status by having BSL Act and to have BSL as part of the National Curriculum, thus benefiting everyone, making our society inclusive."