The BSL GCSE: A route to tackling the Deaf employment gap

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2023 National Disabled Members' Conference
7 July 2023
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that disabled peopled face barriers to employment. 2022 figures show that 53.3% of disabled people were in work compared to 81.9% for non-disabled people. This gives a shocking “disability employment gap” of 28.5%. Although official government figures do not record the employment gap for Deaf native British Sign Language (BSL) users specifically, a Royal Association for Deaf People report in 2020 found:

a)Only a quarter (25%) of deaf people said they had access to careers advice in BSL when they were at school

b)Over half (60%) said they had not been given progression opportunities during their career

c)Nearly two-thirds (63%) said they had encountered barriers to career progression

d)63% also felt they had not been given equal opportunities in the workplace

e)Just over half (53%) did not feel supported at work

Conference notes the BSL Act 2022 which recognised BSL as a language and the subsequent introduction of a new BSL GCSE from September 2025.

Conference believes the new GCSE offers opportunities to tackle to the Deaf employment gap due to the expected need for new BSL teachers.

Deaf BSL users are in a great position to be able to take up these jobs, reducing the Deaf employment gap.

However, it is not yet clear what standards will be required for BSL GCSE teachers and there is a need to clarify this and invest in supporting Deaf people to access these jobs.

Conference therefore calls on the National Disabled Members Committee to:

1)Support appropriate campaigns calling for acceptable standards in the qualifications, knowledge and experience required by BSL GCSE teachers

2)Call for government investment in training Deaf people as BSL GCSE teachers

3)Support appropriate campaigns calling on the government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), together with national and regional employment bodies, to look at ways of adequately capturing employment data on deaf BSL users specifically.