Deaf News: British Deaf Association calls for reform of the Equality Act

Posted on September 8, 2015

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The British Deaf Association (BDA) has thrown its weight behind reform of the Equality Act, following the House of Lords Select Committee’s decision to subject the act to a review.

In particular, the charity is calling for greater rights for sign language users, including a BSL Act.

The BDA said in a press release (which you can also see in BSL):

The BDA has delivered its formal submission to the Committee in which we ask for ratification and implementation of the Government’s obligations under the UNCRPD and a legal status for British Sign Language through a BSL Act. The BDA believes this would go a long way to increasing the effectiveness of the Equality Act 2010 for Deaf people.

The aim of BDA’s submission is to strengthen the Equality Act 2010 to ensure that BSL is protected, promoted and safeguarded.

A BSL Act would ensure that BSL, as one of the UK¹s indigenous minority languages, has a minimum legal status comparable to that of the other languages in the British Isles, such as Cornish, Welsh and Scots Gaelic.

The BDA’s submission also urges that BSL / English interpreters are included in the Equality Act with provision for formal statutory registration.

Dr Terry Riley OBE, Chair of the BDA, says: “Many other minority languages in the UK have had legal rights and protection for a number of years. Yet our own language, BSL, has been ignored. It has become increasingly clear from evidence heard in the Scottish Parliament recently that the Equality Act is not adequate in its current form to protect Deaf people. It is now time for our Government to recognise BSL and its part in the cultural heritage of the UK, and give it the status it deserves.”

The House of Lords has invited the BDA to give oral evidence to the Committee on 27 October 2015.

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