National BSL Day 2024:

Celebrating National BSL Day 2024

Today marks two years since the British Sign Language (BSL) Act was passed by the UK Parliament. Through receiving royal assent, BSL is recognised as an indigenous language of Great Britain.

On this historic day, the culmination of extensive effort and advocacy by the Deaf community, led by the British Deaf Association (BDA) and the Core Group of deaf organisations, was celebrated. Now, two years on, this milestone is celebrated across the country as a step closer to an all-inclusive society.

The Act requires the government to report how relevant ministerial departments are using BSL in communications with the public on policy and changes to the law. The independent BSL Advisory Board will advise the government on implementation and represent the Deaf community.

The Act encourages the government to improve how it engages with and meets the needs of the Deaf community. It complements and extends what government organisations are already doing to ensure communications are accessible to all.

Matthew Ford, Marketing Manager at Signature said: “We are excited to be celebrating the second National BSL Day, reflecting on the success of the BSL Act Now campaign which brought together the sector and organisations from across it. Over the last two years we have seen progress, the BSL GCSE continues to move forward, work is on-going across the sector to make a GCSE that is as good as it can be, that works and delivers.

The BSL advisory board are working with the government to make information more accessible, and they are making progress on this, we at Signature continue to engage and support the advisory board.

These are all steps in the right direction.

There are still challenges to overcome, but Signature, stand alongside our sector partners and the deaf community to continue to support, campaign and work on solutions to improve accessibility for all.”

BDA Conference

This year, the British Deaf Association highlighted this significant achievement with a focus on early years and the notion that every deaf child has a right to learn British Sign Language from birth. The conference which was held on the 26thApril, a few days prior the anniversary, illuminated the profound impact of early exposure to sign language on deaf children’s cognitive, linguistic and personal development.

The conference, which celebrated the anniversary of the BSL Act, also intertwines with the BDA’s campaign “BSL in Our Hands”. This initiative centres on the crucial need of early access to BSL in the formative years of development, specifically from birth to age five.

The conference main aims are:

  1. Promote awareness and understanding.
  2. Highlight positive outcomes in relation to the impact of early BSL in the development of deaf children.
  3. Advocate for policy change
  4. Faster collaboration
  5. Contribute to Deaf rights by supporting global initiatives.

 

The BSL ACT core group were The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD), Signature, Institute of British Sign Language (iBSL), SignHealth, National Register of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD), and Black Deaf UK.

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