Jonathan Lord MP is backing a Bill to make British Sign Language (BSL) a recognised language in the UK.
The British Sign Language Bill, a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Rosie Cooper MP, will, if passed into law, recognise BSL as a language of England, Wales and Scotland in its own right. It will also place a duty on the Government to prepare and publish BSL reports describing what government departments have done to promote the use of BSL in their communications with the public and will require the Government to arrange for guidance to be published about how to promote and facilitate the use of BSL. This guidance could, for example, include advice for government departments on best practice for communicating with BSL users.
The Bill will also see the launch of an advisory board of BSL users to:
- offer guidance to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on how and when to use it;
- examine how to increase the number of BSL interpreters; and
- make sure the Access to Work scheme better meets the needs of BSL users.
The Government-backed Bill passed its Third Reading on Friday 18th March and is now with the House of Lords.
Jonathan met with local campaigners Claire Ingham, Dave Ingham, Martin Willis and Abbie Willis in Woking last Friday to celebrate this good news, and had this to say:
“It is vital we ensure neither deafness nor being hard of hearing is a barrier to participating in society. I therefore welcome the Government’s support for the British Sign Language Bill and am delighted that it was approved by the House of Commons at Third Reading.
“It is my hope that by recognising BSL as a language in its own right we will create a more inclusive and accessible society, improving the lives of deaf people and helping public services to get it right.
“I have met with several members of our local deaf community over recent weeks and months, including of course Claire, Dave, Martin and Abbie, and have learnt a lot about the challenges many of them face on a day-to-day basis. I have been inspired by their enthusiasm for change and look forward to working with them more in the future on these important issues.
“As I understand it, Claire is currently in the process of organising the first ever Woking BSL festival for this autumn. This is a huge undertaking, but I know that she will make a success of it and I can’t wait to join her and the team to celebrate and showcase all that is good about BSL with the wider Woking public.”