Local MP Speaks In Favour Of New Law To Give Official Recognition To British Sign Language

Rob Butler, MP for Aylesbury, has joined parliamentarians from across the Commons to back a new Private Member’s Bill that makes British Sign Language (BSL) an official language of the UK.

The Bill was introduced by Rosie Cooper MP, Labour MP for West Lancashire. Speaking in the Bill’s Third Reading in the House of Commons on Friday (18 March), Rob welcomed the new proposals, and emphasised how they will help create a more level playing field for BSL users.

Rob 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.

Rob also highlighted the work of local organisations supporting deaf people in the Aylesbury constituency, including Stoke Mandeville Combined School, which has special facilities for hearing impaired pupils. He spoke about his experiences visiting the school and seeing first-hand the ways in which students who rely on BSL are integrated into the school community.

Rob said:

“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.”

Rob also took the opportunity to highlight the “amazing work” of the Saunderton-based charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.

Rob 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.