British Sign Language to be officially recognised in new law backed by government

The government has thrown its weight behind a legal campaign led by the Labour MP Rosie Cooper, who said: “The deaf community have constantly had to fight to be heard”

A BSL interpreter for Corrie
A BSL interpreter for Corrie

British Sign Language is set to become a recognised language in the UK – making it more prominent in key announcements to the public.

The government has pledged to back a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Labour MP, Rosie Cooper, and due for debate in Parliament as soon as today.

It signals promotion of BSL when making public service announcements, encouraging other service providers to do the same.

If passed, it would also see the launch of an advisory board of BSL users to offer guidance to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on how and when to use it and examine how to increase the number of BSL interpreters.

DWP minister, Chloe Smith, said: “Effective communication is vital to creating a more inclusive and accessible society, and legally recognising British Sign Language in Great Britain is a significant step towards ensuring that deaf people are not excluded from reaching their potential.

“Passing the Bill will see (the) Government commit to improving the lives of deaf people, and will encourage organisations across the nation to take up the BSL mantle, benefitting both themselves and the deaf community.”

Rosie Cooper said: “The deaf community have constantly had to fight to be heard.

“This bill sends a clear message that they deserve equal access and will be treated as equal.

“Deaf people will have equal opportunity by making BSL interpreters more accessible, finally breaking down those barriers to essential services that everyone else simply takes for granted.”

Actress Rose Ayling-Ennis, who made history as the first deaf contestant in Strictly Come Dancing, is urging people to back the Bill, which has its second reading on Friday.


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