It seems that at the root of everything is the absence of an Act of Parliament which enforces the right of Deaf people to use BSL. If a BSL Act was enacted, this would be the sure fire way of:

  • Ensuring that service providers provide access to BSL users;
  • Bringing BSL back into education as the predominant way to educate Deaf kids;
  • Re-training audiologists to stop negative attitudes and forcing parents to conform to oralist methods;
  • Improving Deaf and BSL awareness among the general populace; and
  • Increasing the number of BSL users in the UK.

So, what do we need to do to get a BSL Act enacted?

  1. Draft a BSL Bill, enter into a consultative process;
  2. Decide whether to introduce it to Parliament via:
    • A Private Members’ Bill by way of a Member of Parliament championing our cause; or
    • A Public Bill (go here for more information on Public Bills).
  3. The following stages then take place in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords:
    • First reading (formal introduction of the Bill without debate);
    • Second reading (general debate);
    • Committee stage (detailed examination, debate and amendments. In the House of Commons this stage takes place in a Public Bill Committee;
    • Report stage (opportunity for further amendments); and
    • Third reading (final chance for debate and amendments are possible in the Lords).
  4. When a Bill has passed through both Houses it is returned to the first House (where it started) for the second House’s amendments to be considered.
  5. Both Houses must agree on the final text. There may be several rounds of exchanges between the two Houses until agreement is reached on every word of the Bill. Once this happens the Bill proceeds to the next stage: Royal Assent.
    • Royal Assent (granted by the monarch); and
    • Act of Parliament (the proposals of the Bill have now become law).
  6. Commencement of the BSL Act, and equality for the Deaf community at last?

Any volunteers to kick off the process and draft a BSL Bill?

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5 Responses

  1. Alison says:

    Hmm … we have to be careful here. BSL recognition is not about audiology, interpreters etc, although many things can be a by product of. Its about the protection of a language, and creating schemes to promote its use, and positivity etc.

    In respect of legislation, many things need to be addressed first. E.g. no activist will campaign in a hurry because of the fiasco that happened in 2003, and there’s no guarantee there will be a repeat. Deaf organisations themselves need to actually work *with* Deaf people, not try and take over campaigns and redefine them to suit their own agenda and budgets.

    Re draft BSL Bill – its already in existence … pulled it together in 2000. However it needs more work, and tbh education before. Most people in deaf organisations don’t even understand what recognition of a language actually means, and gets thrown around like some ideological concept with people having their own ideas.

    Next we hear about BSL recognition = free bus pass. Deaf equiv of Godwin’s Law.

  2. MM says:

    Hear Hear (Pardon the pun !), the total lack of a unified campaign regarding access, will keep BSL access on the back burner. I’d forget a ‘BSL’ bill and go for an ‘Access’ one under human rights, equal access laws mean you are pitched against other deaf who use different means to BSL, the HI are also a powerful (9m), force to reckon with, being as BSL is a mode they don’t use.

    The lack of ANY Unity in the respective worlds to campaigning means the very fact the entirely FALSE declaration give by the BDA, (that BSL was now law), a few years ago, is still seen as valid, the UK NEVER accepted BSL totally as a right, only via low-level access. It remains today NOT officially recognized, despite various campaigners insisting the powers-to-be have not enforced the law, a ‘BSL’ law, was never enacted. Any lawyer will tell you that !

  3. Rob says:

    Al, thanks for your points. If there’s a draft BSL Bill somewhere, I think it should be updated and then posted online for comments and amendments. Any idea who’s got it?

  4. MM says:

    I’ve not seen anything pertaining to a stand alone BSL bill, is probably the one you already mentioned, the draft disability billl contains some things that BSL users could benefit from, it mainly relates to what is already in extance, in that BSL users have a right to BSL in service provision/indformation. If the BSL user wants something a lot stronger e.g. education, it is not there. I’ll get it in the neck, but I would rather an access bill that recognises every deaf persons modes and not single out just BSL, there are lots of other deaf who get less rights than they do, when is there going to be a unified approach to access ? and not one that entirely depends on who shouts the loudest.

  5. Cathy says:

    I certainly agree with MM. In all honesty I have never gone along with the “BSL Act” simply because it does not serve ALL deaf people and never has!!

    MM is right, what is needed is an “Access Bill” this would serve: Deaf, deafened, CI users, SSE users aswell as BSL users and HOH.

    The Bill would then have a much greater chance of becoming law as it will include thousands more people than the BSL Act ever would.

    Iam not surprised that it has not become law yet those with the noose to enact things in Parliament have probably discovered too many loopholes with it or far too expensive across industries and commerce for such a tiny number of BSL users in populace terms.

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