General Election 2017: What do the political parties promise for deaf people?

Posted on May 25, 2017



Whenever a general election is upon us, every political party is quick to draw a manifesto which tackles the biggest issues at the time, whilst appealing to as many people from different walks at life as possible.

So, as the June 8 fast approaches, what do the main three parties, the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour promise to do for deaf people should they be elected?

Well, whilst it doesn’t explicitly reference deaf people, on issues affecting disabled people, the Tory manifesto (which we revealed yesterday they said they will not translate into BSL due to time constraints) says the party will ‘build on the proud Conservative record in supporting those with disabilities’ – referencing their Disability Discrimination Act of 1995.

Under a section entitled ‘the disability gap’, the manifesto, Forward Together, says the Conservatives will:

  • Get 1 million more disabled people into employment over the next ten years
  • Use flexible working and the digital economy to create jobs for those ‘whose disabilities make traditional work difficult’
  • Provide employers with advice and support needed to ‘hire and retain disabled people with health conditions’
  • Continue ensuring ‘a sustainable welfare system, with help targeted at those who need it most’
  • Pass law to give unemployed disabled claimants (or those with a health condition) personalised and tailored employment support
  • If necessary, review disabled people’s access to licensed premises, parking and housing to make improvements.
  • Work with energy and telecoms companies (and other providers of essential services) to ‘reduce the extra costs that disability can occur’

In terms of issues specifically affecting deaf people, The Limping Chicken approached the Conservative Party for clarification as to whether they would pledge to make British Sign Language a legally recognised language, but they were unavailable for comment.

Meanwhile, the Labour manifesto says the party ‘supports a social model of disability’ – an approach which emphasises that it is society which disables someone with deafness or a disability, as opposed to the condition itself.

In their manifesto called For the Many, Not the Few, Labour says, if elected, they will:

  • Incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilites into UK law
  • Publish a new Social Security Bill during their first year in government
  • Enforce the court’s judgement on Personal Independence Payment (PIP) to give equal priority (‘parity of esteem’) to people with physical and mental health conditions.
  • Replace Work Capability and PIP assessments with a ‘personalised, holistic’ assessment process
  • End reassessments for people with severe, long-term conditions
  • Launch a report into expanding Access to Work
  • Enhance the 2010 Equality Act to challenge discrimination at work
  • Annually report disability hate crime and violence against women (as part of the Instanbul Convention) and create ‘national actions plans’ to address them
  • Make British Sign Language a fully recognised language

As for the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto, Change Britain’s Future, the party said they would ‘continue the Access for All programme, improving disabled access to public transport as a key priority’.

In a video on their website, David Buxton, Liberal Democrats Disability Co-Founder said the party would:

  • “Bring together disability and social care including Personal Independence Payment, employment and support allowance into a single pot of funding, offering both Deaf and disabled people ‘one assessment, one budget’ for all their needs.”
  • “Introduce an ‘Early Years’ programme to help families with deaf children learn BSL from the outset.”

A spokesperson for the Lib Dems also said: “It is still party policy to legally recognise BSL as one of the UK’s official languages and working to achieve better awareness of information needs and services for BSL users – particularly health, education and employment. That has been the case since we passed policy on the issue in 2013.”

As well as Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, other political parties have launched their manifestos, or are set to do so in the coming days. Below is the full list, along with accessible links to their manifestos, where available:

  • Conservatives: Manifesto (no accessible versions are currently available, and they’ve said they won’t produce a BSL translation of their manifesto, but people can be notified when certain formats are released by completing the form here)
  • Labour: Manifesto (Labour MP Dawn Butler signs some of her party’s policies here, and accessible versions of the manifesto can be requested by emailing theteam@labour.org.uk)
  • Liberal Democrats: Manifesto (BSL videos for different topics can be found here)
  • Green Party of England and Wales: Green Guarantee 
  • Plaid Cymru: Action Plan 2017 (no BSL version available)
  • Scottish National Party (SNP): Awaiting publication
  • UK Independence Party (UKIP): Awaiting publication

Read more of Liam’s writing for us here.

Liam O’Dell is mildly deaf and uses hearing aids in both ears. Alongside studying for a degree in journalism, Liam enjoys presenting his own radio show, listening to music and reading one of the many books on his ’to-be-read’ list. You can find out more about Liam over at his blog: www.thelifeofathinker.wordpress.com, or follow him on Twitter: @lifeofathinker.

The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.  Find out how to write for us by clicking here, how to follow us by clicking here, and read our disclaimer here.

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