Aylesbury MP backs new British Sign Language law

The MP hopes more can be done to remove the obstacles deaf people face in everyday life
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Aylesbury MP Rob Butler has welcomed the incoming law change which will make British Sign Language (BSL) formally recognised.

A bill requiring public bodies to promote the language is on its way to becoming an official UK law having been accepted in both The House of Commons, and the House of Lords.

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Aylesbury MP Rob ButlerAylesbury MP Rob Butler
Aylesbury MP Rob Butler

The bill was introduced by Rosie Cooper Labour MP for West Lancashire.

Speaking last Friday (18 March), Mr Butler welcomed the proposals, stating it will help level the playing field for people dependent on this form of communication.

He said: “The current lack of legal protection for BSL means that people who rely on the language don’t have access to the vital information and services that are available to hearing people, and that we just take for granted.

"The proposed new law is exactly what we need to ensure people who use BSL are fully included in society.

"BSL users are, after all, equal citizens who deserve access to the same quality of services as everyone else.

"They should be able to be heard and to speak and be understood in the language of their choice.

“As the RNID has pointed out, deaf people possess a wealth of talent that they can and do bring to society. Yet so often there are obstacles for BSL users that mean their talent is left locked up, preventing them from fulfilling their potential.

"I am pleased that this Bill will mean that this can start to change. So I’m delighted that the Government has announced its support for this legislation.”

He name-checked Stoke Mandeville Combined School, which has special facilities for hearing impaired pupils.

On a visit to the school Mr Butler was impressed with the way deaf students were integrated into the school community.

Mr Butler added: “It is incredibly moving to see how those children play a full part in the life of the school.

"And more importantly, that all the children who are not hearing-impaired recognise this is just a normal part of life: a different way to communicate, with different people, with different needs, but who are ultimately all exactly the same as they are.”

The not-for-profit organisation was recently featured on BBC television.

Mr Butler said: “These dogs make a real difference to deaf people’s lives, helping them regain confidence in everyday life – and it’s regaining confidence in everyday life that we are talking about today.”

The Bill was unanimously passed at third reading in the Commons, and now moves to the House of Lords.