On Wednesday 25th January 2023, Chloe Smith MP, asked a Parliamentary question during the House of Commons debate, Chloe asked “What recent progress she has made in implementing the British Sign Language Act 2022?”
Mims Davies, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, responded “I thank my right hon. Friend for her important work in delivering the Act. Work continues across Government to ensure that the Departments named in the schedule to the Act are aware of their reporting duty. They will report on their use of BSL in public communications at the end of the first reporting period on 28 June”.
Chloe Smith MP, “I welcome that update. Will the advisory board be on track ahead of that first statutory reporting date? When will the statutory guidance be commenced? Furthermore, will my hon. Friend commit to the Government’s major public broadcasts being fully accessible?”
Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions said, “My right hon. Friend will be pleased to know that the first meeting of the Departments driving the Act is due to take place in mid-February. It is vital that the 20 Departments listed in the schedule deliver the commitments. The advisory board will be the first dual-language board advising His Majesty’s Government, which demonstrates our commitment to the deaf community. It will form the vital guidance on the Act, and it will rightly look at BSL for major public broadcasts, which many of our constituents want to see and have asked for.”
Margaret Ferrier Independent, Rutherglen and Hamilton West, “What discussions has the Minister had with her colleagues in the Government Communication Service about ensuring that BSL interpretation is provided for Government announcements and media events, and about the importance of not relying on written documents as an adjustment for deaf people?”
Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions responded, “I thank the hon. Lady for her interest. The British Sign Language advisory board is being established to advise the Government on that implementation. Among the people giving advice will be BSL signers, and the majority of the members will be deaf BSL users who have lived experience and want Government communications to be accessible. I am proud that the Department for Work and Pensions has accessible jobcentres, and the same is needed for major Government announcements.”
Signature continues to offer our support and hopes that positive steps are taken in the near future, with both the announcement of the BSL Advisory board, as well as the rightly looking at BSL for major public broadcasts.