On Wednesday 19 January, West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper together with David Buxton, Chair of the British Deaf Association held a virtual drop-in session to promote her British Sign Language Bill.
The event was open to MPs from all parties to join the call and speak to Rosie and representatives of Deaf organisations, all of whom use BSL as their first language, about the current issues facing Deaf people and what the Bill hopes to achieve.
Rosie’s BSL Bill, which aims to recognise BSL as a language in Law and place a responsibility on the Government to issue guidance and publish reports on the use of BSL, will receive its first Parliamentary debate on the 28th of January.
The drop in was well attended by MPs across all parties, including Government Minister for Disabled People Chloe Smith MP, who has engaged with Rosie in developing the Bill.
Outside of Parliament, the Bill has had the support of Strictly Come Dancing winner Rose Ayling-Ellis, who has been instrumental in making sure as many people as possible across the country know about the Bill and encouraging them to contact their own MPs, asking them to back the Bill on the 28th of January.
Rosie Cooper MP said:
“I am delighted at the turnout and positive response to the Bill! It was fantastic to see so many MPs wanting to learn about BSL, the difficulties that Deaf people face and how my Bill hopes to improve this situation for all BSL users.
“My deepest thanks go to the volunteers from the Deaf community that spoke to MPs today, and to their interpreters. This event was only possible because of the generosity they showed in sharing their experiences and explaining to MPs that this Bill is greatly needed.
“It was also a pleasure to welcome Chloe Smith MP, Minister for Disabled People to the event and I have been encouraged by her engagement when developing this bill.
“I am really hopeful we can get this Bill past the finish line and truly make a difference to people’s lives.”