We campaign for changes in public policy and greater public awareness of the communication issues deaf and deafblind people face every day. Our campaigns include wider recognition of British Sign Language; establishing a qualification for secondary schools, removing communication barriers from education and employment and making public services fully accessible.
Government funding for learning and teaching
We are asking the government to invest in communication skills with deaf and deafblind people.
Since we began campaigning deaf and deafblind people have received better access to all aspects of society. There are now more deaf and deafblind people in education and employment due to laws such as the Equality Act and government schemes such as Access to Work.
The accessibility of services has also improved, with more television, film and theatre being translated to written English or British Sign Language, and more businesses providing improved customer support.
Reductions in government funding mean that fewer people are able to learn BSL, lipreading and lipspeaking, notetaking and speech-to-text reporting. Between 2005/6 and 2013/14 the number of people achieving a further education qualification in sign language fell by 75 per cent.
Without the necessary communication support, deaf and deafblind people will not have the access they need to fulfil their potential in their learning and their careers.
Promoting British Sign Language
We campaign to improve communication with deaf and deafblind people is by promoting BSL.
Minority language status
Despite being an indigenous UK language, the government has not committed to protecting or promoting BSL by making it an official minority language. The UK has recognised Cornish, Irish, Scots, Ulster Scots, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh under the European Charter for regional or minority languages. We are campaigning to get BSL the same recognition.
We believe the government is more likely to recognise BSL as an official minority language if:
- It is a part of everyday life. We work with public services, businesses and not-for-profit organisations to make that a reality.
- More people learn BSL. Our qualifications make it possible for deaf and hearing people to learn BSL at any stage of their life. If more people can use BSL, then people whose first or preferred language is BSL will have better access to all aspects of society.
Better access in BSL
We work with government departments and services to make sure they are accessible in BSL. That means providing information in BSL and communication support such as sign language interpreters.
We also help businesses understand how they can improve their customer service by understanding deafness and providing access in BSL. An increasing number are now using online video services to support their deaf customers.
Spreading deaf awareness
We want to raise deaf awareness throughout the UK. To help us achieve this we created Get Deaf Aware. The range of deaf awareness products and training are designed to help organisations and individuals deliver a better service to deaf people.
Get Deaf Aware can improve understanding, awareness and communication skills with people who have a hearing loss. To find out more visit the Get Deaf Aware website.
Communicating in English
There are more than 10 million people who have a hearing loss in the UK. The first language of most of them is English.
They therefore need access to communication in English. That access can be provided by
- technology such as hearing aids, amplifiers and TV listeners;
- small changes to communication, such as speaking clearly and slowly; and
- communication and language professionals.
We campaign to improve that access by working with public services, businesses and not-for-profit organisations to raise awareness of deafness and hearing loss. We help to explain how access can be provided, and make it clear different solutions work for different people.
We also want to make sure there are more communication and language professionals who can provide communication in English. They are primarily lipspeakers, notetakers and speech-to-text-reporters.