British Sign Language Bill Receives Govt Backing
A bill that will make British Sign Language (BSL) a recognised language in the UK has received backing from the government, with the minister for disabled people working closely with Labour MP Rosie Cooper (who brought the bill) and deaf people’s organisations to ensure it meets the needs of those who will benefit the most.
If the bill is passed, it will see the launch of an advisory board of BSL users to ensure the Access to Work scheme better meets the needs of BSL users and supports them in employment.
It will also provide guidance to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on how and when to use it, as well as examining how the DWP goes about increasing the number of BSL interpreters.
Minister for disabled people, health and work Chloe Smith said: “Effective communication is vital to creating a more inclusive and accessible society, and legally recognising British Sign Language in Great Britain is a significant step towards ensuring that deaf people are not excluded from reaching their potential.
“Passing the bill will see the government commit to improving the lives of deaf people, and will encourage organisations across the nation to take up the BSL mantle, benefiting both themselves and the deaf community.”
Figures from Hearing Link show that there are at least 4.4 million people with hearing loss in the UK who are of working age. The employment rate for people with hearing loss is 65 per cent, compared to 79 per cent in those with no disability or long-term health issues.
Furthermore, research published in 2014 shows that 74 per cent of people feel their employment opportunities are limited because of their hearing loss.
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