In 2022, following campaigning from the Deaf Community, the British Government passed the British Sign Language Act 2022 (BSL Act), which recognised BSL as a language of England, Scotland and Wales in law.
The Act also requires government departments to report on how they are ensuring their communications are promoting or facilitating the use of BSL.
The Government promised to establish an Advisory Board, where representatives of the Deaf community would be able to advise government departments on the implementation of the BSL Act and other matters important to BSL users, such as increasing the number of registered interpreters.
What is the BSL Advisory Board?
The Board is not a decision-making body and does not advise on matters that have been devolved to Scottish and Welsh governments, it represents the Deaf community within government and helps us campaign to remove barriers that BSL users face in everyday life.
Who is on the Board?
Members of the Board will serve up to three years. They were appointed by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and were chosen following an application process to ensure that the board represents the diversity of the BSL community.
In November 2022, it was announced that Craig Crowley, CEO of Action Deafness, would be appointed co-Chair of the Board. Teri Devine, Associate Director for Inclusion, represents RNID on the Advisory Board. She is a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) and grew up using BSL as her first language.
“I am delighted to be appointed to the BSL Advisory Board by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, this role especially means a lot to me as a child of deaf adults and with British Sign Language being my first language.
I am excited to be part of the body which will be implementing the BSL Act and drive social change that benefits the Deaf community and furthers inclusion in society across Great Britain. We will use this position to communicate the thoughts and needs of the Deaf community and will actively work with them to shape the agenda and priorities of the Board.”Teri Devine, Associate Director of Inclusion at RNID
Serving on the board are:
- Craig Crowley MBE FRSA
- Gaye Hampton
- Erin McCluskey
- Brian Kokoruwe
- Scott Garthwaite
- Mangayarkkarasy Sutharsan
- Kate Reed
- Joanna Atkinson
- Asif Iqbal MBE
- Sylvia Simmonds
- Theresa (Teri) Devine
- Richard MacQueen
- Ahmed Mudawi
- Martin Thacker
- Richard Platt
- Zoe Fudge-Ajadi and Vicki Ashmore
- Samantha Stocken.
RNID is committed to supporting the Board through our expertise and will use our social research to provide the Board with the evidence it needs to show government where it needs to do more to remove the barriers faced by BSL users.
What can you do to help?
Now is the time to push for improvements in public policy and services for the Deaf community, and if you would like to help us support the Board, we would love for you to sign up to our Research Panel, where we share opportunities to get involved in surveys and focus groups on topics impacting the BSL users in areas such as health, employment and accessible service provision.