29th April 2022 • My Family Our Needs

The British Sign Language Act received Royal Assent on 28th April 2022.

Labour MP Rosie Cooper, herself a child of Deaf parents, originally brought forward the British Sign Language (BSL) Bill as a Private Member’s Bill in June 2021. It gained Government and cross-party support and was introduced by Lord Holmes of Richmond (Conservative) to the House of Lords on Monday 21st March.

Parliament passed the BSL Bill on 27th April at its third reading in the House of Lords, recognising BSL as a language of Great Britain for the first time. Then, on 28th April it received Royal Assent; the final step required for a parliamentary bill to become law.

It’s a great moment for Britain’s Deaf community and comes after years of campaigning for the recognition of its language. The BSL Act represents a positive step forward, not only in terms of the recognition, facilitation and wider public awareness of the language, but practically, it gives the Deaf community the right to access public services such as health and education in BSL.

A historic day

David Buxton, Chair of the British Deaf Association, said, ‘We are extremely pleased to see the UK Parliament finally vote to recognise British Sign Language as a language of Great Britain in law today, after 19 long years of campaigning.

‘British Sign Language is Britain’s fourth indigenous language, after English, Welsh and Scottish Gaelic. It is only right that BSL be accorded the same status and legal protection.

‘Today is a historic day for the Deaf community in the UK, and an inspiration for other countries around the world where the national sign language(s) has not yet been recognised in law.’

The Act:

  • Provides legal recognition for BSL as a language of England, Wales and Scotland.
  • Creates a duty for the Government to prepare and publish BSL reports, describing what Government departments have done to promote the use of BSL in their communications with the public.
  • Requires the Government to arrange for guidance to be published about how to promote and facilitate the use of BSL.

For more on this story, read the full details on the British Deaf Association website.