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About BSL

We believe that Deaf people should have the right to full participation in our society signing BSL and using both written and / or spoken English.  We therefore believe in bilingualism – something like 80% of the world is bilingual.  We want Deaf people to be part of this majority.

We believe there should be full access for Deaf people.  This involves:

  • Ensuring staff receive BSL Awareness/Deaf Equality training, including information about
  • How to communicate with Deaf people.
  • Using qualified and registered BSL/English interpreters.
  • Adapting public information to be more BSL accessible, for example on CD-Rom, DVD or websites, and using technology such as SMS messaging, textphones, faxes and videophones/webcams.
  • Ensuring all public information is accessible to the Deaf BSL community.
  • Ensuring signage and buildings are accessible and clear [1].

Bilingual and bicultural education for deaf children

The BDA agrees that English is essential for deaf children.  Without English, they will not be able to succeed in later life.  The BDA also agrees that deaf children should maximise their hearing so that they can have a choice.

The BDA however represents many Deaf people who feel angry at being short-changed by their education, who feel disappointed that they are unable to read well, who feel that their employment opportunities have been and are limited and do not want to see the next generation of deaf children experience the same kind of deprivations.

We believe that deaf children do best when they learn British Sign Language (BSL) and English. Some deaf children will never have enough hearing to make use of their hearing aids or cochlear implants to the same extent that the rest of the population do. They are deaf.  For those children, BSL is essential as a first language because it is a visual language. Once they have learned the basics, they can learn a second language which would be English.

We believe that even though over 90% of deaf children are born to hearing families, it is essential that they learn about Deaf culture.  We insist on Deaf culture for families with deaf children and their families because we want to support the deaf child’s full integration in the family.

[1] Derived from BDA’s BSL Charter: Pledge 1, “Ensure access for Deaf people to information and services”