RNID and other organisations, and the thousands of people who have supported the BSL Act Now! Campaign are ecstatic that the BSL Bill will become an Act.
The act passed its third reading in the House of Lords on 27 April and British Sign Language will be legally recognised in England! The BSL Bill is now set to receive Royal Assent from the Queen and become the BSL Act 2022.
This is a momentous achievement for the Deaf community. After many years and overcoming many barriers, this Act is a vital step forward towards improving the lives of many Deaf people.
We are excited and optimistic about the future. We have seen so much progress since the BSL Bill was introduced by Rosie Cooper MP. The Bill passing shows how, with your support, we have transformed the Government’s understanding of Deaf culture and the barriers faced by BSL signers.
This comes in a great year for building deaf awareness. We’ve seen:
- an increase in people wanting to learn BSL
- CODA and its Deaf star winning Oscars
- and Rose Ayling-Ellis winning Strictly Come Dancing.
The Bill becoming an Act continues the momentum towards delivering important change.
The Act supports inclusion and equality for Deaf people in society through 3 clauses:
- Recognising BSL as a language for England, Wales, and Scotland
- Requiring the Secretary of State to report on the promotion and facilitation of the use of BSL across Government departments
- Issuing guidance to Government departments and public bodies (such as the NHS and local councils), about how they can meet the needs of BSL signers for whom BSL is their first or preferred language.
Next steps for the BSL Act Now! campaign
The BSL Act becoming law is just a first step. All the organisations working on the campaign will continue to work with the Government to ensure it meets its commitments to the Act:
- Establishing an Advisory Board where representatives of the Deaf community can advise public services
- Increasing the numbers of registered interpreters
- Improving how Access to Work operates for claimants and employers.
The BSL Act is a great achievement, made possible by so many people and organisations coming together. Help us build on this, join our Campaigns Network.
Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive at RNID, said:
“RNID and our supporters join with the Deaf community today to celebrate this historic moment as British Sign Language passes the final hurdle before it is legally recognised in England, Wales and Scotland. We’re immensely proud to have worked alongside other deaf organisations and parliamentarians to support this campaign. We look forward to the BSL Bill getting Royal Assent soon and to working with the Government to make sure the BSL Act makes a real difference to the lives of Deaf people in the UK.”
Annie Harris, RNID Advocacy Officer and BSL signer, said:
“British Sign Language is an essential part of the Deaf community’s culture and identity, yet too often everyday information is not accessible. Today is a momentous step forward in improving lives for Deaf people. I am so proud to have been part of this history making campaign and I’m so excited to envision a world where we are free of many barriers, and deaf and hearing people are treated as equal.”