Unity – is it possible?

BSL translation coming soon.

Following on from Dennis’ post on The Talkie (albeit focused on unity within the Deaf community in the USA), it would be interesting to see whether unity can be achieved within the Deaf1 community in the UK. With this in mind, I’d like to ask each of these groups of Deaf people what they’d like to see happen in the UK, to establish whether the various groups have any common denominations with which to unite. Here are a few suggestions, based on my personal experience and observations.


  • Legal protection for BSL, in the form of a BSL Act;
  • Improved access to mainstream services;
  • Better subtitling and more BSL on TV channels and the web; and
  • Education through BSL (for Deaf and hearing)


  • Improved access to digital hearing aids;
  • Inclusion in the Deaf community;
  • Recognition of the right to use oral means of communication without criticism; and
  • Better subtitling on TV channels and the web.

Hard of hearing

  • Improved access to hearing aids; and
  • Better subtitling on TV channels and the web

Quite surprising how many common aims these groups have.

What else do these groups of Deaf people want from society today? Discuss.

  1. Deaf, used in this context to cover Deaf, Deafblind, deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people []

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3 Responses

  1. Alison says:

    Deaf people need to use BSL without criticism, and stop having it labelled as a second rate / inferior language choice. Furthermore, information actually available in BSL! The understanding through language, that there’s a kind of double inaccess happening.

    deaf – you missed out their communication support methods, and an awareness of this.

    Hard of hearing: they communication support, stuff like noisy backgrounds (in shops, pubs and on television). Information.

    One category you’ve missed out is deafened, which comes with its own issues. E.g. access to rehabilitation services.

    What irks me about all this, its over simplified. No-one actually fits into a small box. Many of us who are now Deaf, grew up as deaf. When we bang on about Deaf issues, it is suddenly perceived that we have totally forgotten about say the first 20 odd years of our lives.

    Whilst there is some common ground, I honestly don’t think anyone can represent all. E.g. the rnid’s strategic direction current is to CURE deafness. How can it have this as a major strategy *and* e.g. celebrate BSL, and actually send out a message to society that we are okay (if they want to get rid of a certain state of being)?

  2. Unity is possible, but not under the current regime of negative portrayals of deafness.

    Agree with Alison, BSL [indeed, sign language] needs to be accepted on its own terms and as language. Not as a mere communication method.

    Deafness needs to be seen as a positive state of being.

    AND, a lot of the negative crap we go through growing up, we turn inwards, and is expressed as self hatred, low self esteem, and anything that shows deafness in a positive light, is attacked.

  3. Anne Greenall says:

    I agreed with you Alison and Tony that BSL should be express as feeling freedom speech as ASL. I myslf being as Americian Deaf mother of hearing son raising my son without father. I find it bit Challenge to think not just Americian alone but all world should be using their own country’s sign language ways. I think I might want to learn other sign language as challenge as foreign…

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