A rush of 12 MPs signing an EDM (Early Day Motion) this week to promote the rights of sign language users has pushed the number of MPs signatures up to 122 and now makes EDM 1167 the 15th best supported of this parliamentary year.
With only five days left for MPs to back the motion, the push for more signatures is almost over for campaigners who have been marshalled via a Facebook group called ‘Spit the Dummy and Campaign for BSL Act‘ which boasts 11,000 members.
The EDM was tabled by Sir Malcolm Bruce MP in March following four month’s work by leading deaf charity the BDA and is backed by The Royal Association for the Deaf as well as sign language qualification body, Signature.
As part of the campaign, BSL (British Sign Language) users have been writing to and meeting MPs – and in some cases, MPs have also visited deaf clubs to see the concerns of their deaf constituents first-hand.
The government’s Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey, is said to have employed two BSL interpreters to help her understand the content of the hundreds of videos posted on the Facebook campaign group’s page.
Des Masterson of the ‘Spit the Dummy’ Campaign Team, said last night: “We are extremely delighted with the outcome so far, especially considering the Facebook group was only established in mid-February and EDM 1167 was tabled on March 11th.
“The Facebook group made a significant impact by urging people to request that their MPs sign the EDM. The total of signatures now stands at 122 but there are lots of MPs who haven’t signed so please urge your MP to follow suit and pass the message onto your families, friends and colleagues.”
BSL campaigners, the BDA and RAD will be hoping that the success of the EDM will translate into some tangible action by government, but yesterday some MPs criticised EDMs in a BBC report as ‘falsely giving the impression of action’ as very rarely do they get debated on the floor of the House of Commons.
Des added: “The EDMs highlighted in the BBC report cover some silly subjects compared with the BSL EDM. This EDM is calling on the Government to prepare a report that covers all that it is doing to support BSL users and to identify the barriers that still remain to BSL users’ full participation in British society. That’s an important subject.”
By Andy Palmer, The Limping Chicken’s Editor-at-Large.
Andy volunteers for the Peterborough and District Deaf Children’s Society on their website, deaf football coaching and other events as well as working for a hearing loss charity. Contact him on twitter @LC_AndyP (all views expressed are his own).
The Limping Chicken’s supporters provide: BSL translation, multimedia solutions, television production and BSL training (Remark! ), sign language interpreting and communications support (Deaf Umbrella), online BSL video interpreting (SignVideo), captioning and speech-to-text services (121 Captions), theatre captioning (STAGETEXT), legal advice for Deaf people (RAD Deaf Law Centre), Remote Captioning (Bee Communications), visual theatre with BSL (Krazy Kat) , healthcare support for Deaf people (SignHealth), specialist lipspeaking support (Lipspeaker UK), sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting (Action Deafness Communications) education for Deaf children (Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton), and a conference on deafness and autism/learning difficulties on June 13th in Manchester (St George Healthcare group).