British Sign Language Recognised by UK Government
The United Kingdom has officially recognised British Sign Language! For all the details, watch this video.
A Bill to recognise British Sign Language (BSL) as a language of England, Scotland and Wales was initially proposed by Rosie Cooper who is a member of Parliament in the House of Commons (like Lok Sabha) in June 2021. She herself is a child of Deaf parents. The BSL bill was then introduced by Christopher Holmes to the House of Lords (like Rajya Sabha) on 21 March. In the House of Lords, the bill twice and on the third time, all the Peers (Members of Parliament) agreed to the bill and it was passed unopposed on 27 April. The Bill after receiving Royal Assent will be passed as the BSL Act 2022. Like in India the final approval after the bill is passed in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, the President approves it and it becomes an Act - In the UK the Queen approves it.The Deaf Community in Britain were celebrating this historic moment, which comes after many years of campaigning for the recognition of their language.
The Act will:
recognise British Sign Language as a language of England, Wales and Scotland;
It will ensure that all government departments use of British Sign Language
Make rules on how government departments and public bodies must provide interpreters, sign language teachers, accessibility in public places, TV etc and meet the needs of Deaf people in the UK for use BSL.
David Buxton, Chair of the British Deaf Association said, “We are extremely pleased to see the UK Parliament finally vote to recognise British Sign Language as a language of Great Britain in law today, after 19 long years of campaigning. British Sign Language is Britain’s fourth indigenous language, after English, Welsh, and Scottish Gaelic. It is only right that BSL be accorded the same status and legal protection. Today is an inspiration for other countries around the world where the national sign language(s) has not yet been recognised in law. While today is a day to celebrate, we are aware that this marks the first step on a long path towards providing truly equal access to public services, information and opportunities for Deaf BSL users.
The British Deaf Association looks forward to working hand in hand with the Government to implement and monitor the progress of the BSL Act 2022 to meet the unique needs of the 151,000 people who have British Sign Language as their first or preferred language. (deaf and hearing who use BSL). The Act will be successful if there is full involvement and inclusion of the input of Deaf BSL signers in important decisions and policy making. We also hope that the legal recognition of BSL will encourage many more people across the UK to learn British Sign Language and go on to become interpreters, bilingual professionals and allies of the Deaf community. BSL can bring us all together as a society.”Rosie Cooper MP said, “At last, the Deaf community will be able to say that their language is legally recognised.Their voices will be heard loud and clear and there will be no excuse for failing to respect BSL as a language. Now the Deaf community makes real progress fixing the injustices that they continue to face.”