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Royal Patron to Attend British Deaf Association’s First British Sign Language Symposium

15 March 2012

The British Deaf Association (BDA) is delighted to be welcoming its Patron, The Duke of York, to its first ever British Sign Language (BSL) Symposium in London next week (19 March).

His Royal Highness will attend the charity’s BSL Symposium one-day event, which will be held at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury in the capital.   The Duke of York has been Patron of the British Deaf Association since 1997.

The BSL Symposium is being held as part of the BDA’s BSL Day campaign, which marks the anniversary of the British Government recognising BSL as a language in its own right back in 2003.

The BSL Symposium has two aims. One is to establish the BSL Alliance to which organisations interested in promoting BSL are invited to join.  The second is to begin the process of working together to achieve agreed objectives set out in the national BSL Strategy “Transforming Deaf People’s Lives”.

David Buxton, CEO of the BDA, commented: “This Symposium is a first step to ensuring that recognition becomes meaningful with enforceable rights and appropriate resources.

“In 2003, the British Government recognised BSL as a language in its own right; a landmark announcement welcomed by many people. However there is no room for complacency – more needs to be done, including:

  • A Video Relay Service which is unrestrictive needs to be made available
  • Deaf children need to receive the same standard of education as hearing children”

Special guest speakers lined up for the BSL Symposium include Markku Jokinen, former President of the World Federation of the Deaf and currently CEO of the Finnish Deaf Association - he was one of the architects of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and will be presenting the rationale behind the decision why and how sign language was included in the Convention.

There will also be case studies from the UKDPC on writing a shadow report for the UNCRPD, an overview of Sign Languages in Europe by Mark Wheatley, Director of European Deaf Union, an overview on Researching BSL by Professor Graham Turner and the BSL Bill in Scotland by Lilian Lawson, CEO of Scottish Council on Deafness.

David Buxton concluded: “The BDA is our Deaf people’s organisation and the BSL Symposium will highlight the new vision and leadership that was first shown by Francis Maginn in 1890. Campaign today.... equality tomorrow.”

Some places are still available for the BSL Symposium. To find out more or to book, email: bslsymposium@bda.org.ukor call 0207 405 0090.