British Sign Language (BSL)

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2013 National Disabled Members' Conference
1 July 2013

Conference welcomes the British Deaf Association (BDA), Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD) and the Signature campaign for British Sign Language – Recognition and Beyond

Conference notes that BSL has been recognised by Government (since 2003) as an indigenous ’language in its own right, regularly used by a significant number of people’ this was after years of campaigning by Deaf people.

Conference believes that ten years on it is now time to urge the Government to refocus on BSL.

Conference notes that BSL is used by many thousands of deaf people as their first or preferred language alongside English. BSL users still find it hard to access public services, especially health and education, as well as employment due to a lack of public awareness and interpreters. Whilst some good work is being done by different employers and Government departments to support BSL users, this is piecemeal and not co-ordinated.

A key example of this are the current welfare reform changes where information suitable for BSL users is not being cascaded and deaf people are being disadvantaged by that fact

Conference notes that 122 MP’s signed the Early Day Motion (EDM)1167(which has now fallen due to the end of the parliamentary session). The EDM was titled ‘10th Anniversary of Recognition of British Sign Language’, and highlighted the issues facing deaf people, the importance of BSL and urged the Government to ‘renew its efforts in this direction in 2013; calls on the Government to prepare a short, cross-departmental report which pulls together all that it is currently doing to support BSL users and to identify the barriers that still remain to BSL users’ full participation in, and contribution to, British society.’

Conference calls on National Disabled Members Committee to:-

1)Work with BDA, RDA and Signature to support and highlight their campaign for BSL to be amongst UNISON members

2)Work with Labour Link MP’s to raise awareness of the campaign