|The British Deaf Association (BDA) warmly welcomes the recent comments from the outgoing Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey. She hinted that she would be in favour of a legal status for British Sign Language (BSL). However, she said she remains concerned that granting it could lead to greater isolation from mainstream society for BSL users rather than a bigger engagement.
The BDA will now encourage the new Minister for Disabled People to follow up the challenge and encourage a full discussion on the issue because, in the BDAs view, Deaf people have been marginalised for too long.
Dr Terry Riley, the chair of the BDA, said: We will ask the new Minister whether legal protection for Welsh and Scots Gaelic languages has led to greater isolation from mainstream society for them.
We believe the answer is no. We want to see more parents of deaf children enjoying BSL, more hearing children learning BSL via a GCSE, more teachers of the deaf using BSL fluently and more deaf people actively involved in wider society. More investment in programmes supporting BSL will reduce social exclusion and communication barriers, resulting in more positive attitudes towards the language and Deaf people. It will be more cost effective in the long term.