British Sign Language to become a legally recognised language in UK

British Sign Language (BSL) is set to become a legally recognised language in the UK under new laws announced last week.

The Government said the move will help deaf people “play a more prominent role in society”.

Introduced by MP Rosie Cooper, the Private Member’s Bill will see BSL – a combination of hand gestures, facial expressions, and body language – become a recognised language, encouraging local authorities, transport operators, and businesses to include BSL in public service announcements.

The new legislation would also see the launch of an advisory board of BSL users, who would offer guidance to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on how and when to use BSL and ensure that the Access to Work scheme better meets the needs of BSL users.

The Access to Work initiative helps people with disabilities to find or stay in employment by providing grants of up to £62,900 to adapt the workplace.

Commenting on the announcement, DWP 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 Government commit to improving the lives of deaf people and will encourage organisations across the nation to take up the BSL mantle, benefitting both themselves and the deaf community.”

According to the latest statistics, around 250,000 people use BSL to communicate in the UK.

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