The British Sign Language Bill, presented to parliament by West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has passed ‘second reading’ and is on its way to becoming law.
The Bill aims to recognise BSL in legal statute as a language in its own right and places a duty on the Government to create guidance, issued to all Ministerial Departments, on how they should be promoting BSL within their responsibilities. Each Department will also be required to report on how they have included BSL in their communications with the public.
Minister for Disabled People, Chloe Smith MP who has worked closely with Rosie in developing the Bill, spoke at the debate to confirm the Government’s support of the Bill.
The Bill will now move to its committee stage, and then ‘a third reading’ in the House of Commons followed by passage through the House of Lords on its way to receiving Royal Assent.
Rosie Cooper MP said:
“I am delighted that the Bill has passed this huge hurdle. It has been at least 230 years since BSL was first introduced, so this will be a very emotional day for every Deaf person who has been waiting for the legal recognition of their language.
“The success we now enjoy lies on the shoulders of all the deaf people, including my dad, who over the years fought for recognition and equality! That goal is now squarely in sight.
“Getting the Government to support my Bill has always been essential to actually making it into Law. The Minister has really embraced the Bill and BSL itself, and has helped wholeheartedly to develop it into something that will really make a difference.
Minister for Disabled People Chloe Smith MP said:
“I was proud to support the BSL Bill today. It is a significant step towards real equality for deaf people and will see British Sign Language become a recognised language.
“Passing the Bill will see the Government commit to improving the lives of deaf people and help create a more inclusive and accessible society.”