Campaign for BSL Act

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2006 National Disabled Members' Conference
6 July 2006

Conference applauds Government for recognising British Sign Language as the fourth indigenous language of the United Kingdom 18th March 2003.

We applaud the Disability Equality Duty that requires public authorities to produce Disability Equality Schemes. However, we have concerns that the Duty does not recognise the cultural/linguistic model which is a vital part of Deaf Equality for British Sign Language users. Deaf BSL Users should have a right to equality the same as any other group in society with a right to use their own language, and have access to services in their preferred language, e.g. Welsh Language users.

Conference calls upon National Disabled Members’ Committee (NDMC) to lobby the Disability Rights Commission, (and the Commission for Equality and Human Rights in future), TUC, UNISON National Executive Council and UNISON Labour Link committees to campaign for the government to legislate for a BSL Act that will replace outdated assumptions about Deaf people. this legislation should protect and promote the Deaf cultural language, it should also educate society about providing access and allowing genuine equality. It should further legislate for BSL to be taught as part of the National Curriculum and Deaf children should have the right to learn through the medium of their natural language. Public and service information should be provided in BSL.

This Conference agrees that UNISON should ensure that members who are BSL Users are invited to play a full role in this union campaign.