This old BDA website has been archived and is no longer updated.
>> Please visit to our new website <<

BDA, RAD and Signature call for the government to do more for BSL users

7 May 2013


BDA, RAD and Signature call for the government to do more for BSL users, starting by reporting on what the government is doing now to support BSL

The BDA joined forces with the Royal Association for Deaf People (RAD) and Signature at the House of Commons on 18 March 2013 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the official recognition of sign language – and to urge the government to do more.

Speaking at a reception for MPs and numerous Deaf charities and campaigners, Esther McVey MP, the Minister for Disabled People, told the meeting about the useful things that different government departments were doing to help deaf BSL users.

Ms McVey explained that the various initiatives were not well coordinated and said “a failing in government is that things are treated in silos – we need to break them down”. She promised, “We need to look at a real, practical way of working together and moving forward. That is what I can offer you and will offer you today”.

Esther McVey MP, Minister for Disabled People, getting the message from Deaf students.

You can see a video of the Minister’s speech here and read the speech here.

David Buxton, Chief Executive of the BDA said, “Every piece of government support is welcome. However, this support is very fragmented. It needs to be better coordinated. We need a centrally driven, long-term strategy to support BSL users.”

He called for a cross-government body to be set up and for this to issue a report on what different government departments are doing to support Deaf BSL users. He suggested this might lead to a cross-government strategy for BSL.

David urged all MPs to sign EDM 1167 (see here), which asks the Government to prepare this cross-departmental report.

Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey MP (centre), with David Buxton and Terry Riley of the BDA, Jan Sheldon of RAD and Jim Edwards of Signature.

David praised the energy and enthusiasm of the new Facebook campaign, Spit the Dummy, and stressed the need to work for change at local level. David said, “Our shared priority must be to win practical improvements to the lives of Deaf BSL users in their local communities – with health services, schools, colleges, workplaces and so on. That is what the BDA intends to focus on.”

You can see a video of David’s speech at the event here and read the speech here.

Sir Malcolm Bruce MP, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on deafness and who hosted the reception, said “While recognition is an achievement worth celebrating, we all know that communication support for deaf people needs to go a lot further. Other minority languages in the UK, notably Welsh and Gallic, get a huge amount of support, whereas our indigenous sign languages do not get comparable support.”

You can see a video of Sir Malcolm’s remarks at the event here and read the remarks here.

David Buxton of the BDA and Susan Daniels of NDCS with Deaf students and their parents and teachers.

The BDA, RAD and Signature also prepared a written briefing for MPs. This called on the government to do the following:

  • Name a “BSL minister” responsible for driving forward a cross-government approach towards supporting BSL. As a first step, the minister should issue a report that identifies what all departments are doing for BSL users.
  • Address the frustration and anger felt by Deaf people by improving specific services to make BSL users’ lives easier.
  • Protect deaf children and their families from the cuts.
  • Encourage local councils and health authorities to sign up to the BSL Charter developed by the BDA. This could make a real difference on the ground.
  • In the long term, consider legal status for BSL similar to the Welsh Language Act.

You can see the full briefing here.

A summary version of the BSL Charter is here and a full version is here.



<< Return to 'BSL Charter' page