Labour MP gives poignant speech at Sign Language debate.

Dawn Butler spoke at the British Sign Language Debate in Parliament about an e-petition which calls for British Sign Language (BSL) to be part of the National Curriculum reports The Voice.

The Brent MP, who has a level two qualification in BSL, used BSL in part during her contribution to the debate, which was covered by a BSL interpreter and also livestreamed online with subtitles.

The petition calling on BSL to be taught in schools was started by Wayne Barrow, campaigner and TV presenter and it was signed by over 31,000 people at the time of the debate. According to the British Deaf Association, there are an estimated 151,000 BSL users, 87,000 of whom are deaf.

The Labour government recognised BSL as an official language in 2003 but it is still yet to be given full legal status, and the 15 year anniversary of BSL being recognised will be on Mar 18. Although British Sign Language is a recognised language in the UK, it is not available as a GCSE which can be taught in schools.

Dawn Butler, MP for Brent Central, said: “I was pleased to take part in this important debate and I would like to thank the wonderful Wayne Barrow for starting this petition. I am passionate in my belief that equality is equality, you cannot pick and choose. I remember the first time I really spent time with two deaf people. I was at college and I learnt how to sign my name and say hello – I always felt I could have and should have done more.”

Read more Labour MP gives poignant speech at Sign Language debate.

Do you agree that sign language should be taught at GCSE level or would  trying to squeeze it in to an already full curriculum be too difficult? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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  1. Judith Wilson

    Of course BSL should be taught in our schools – it should have been incorporated into the curriculum years ago. It is a totally inclusive subject, not only helping deaf people feel part of the community but also helping others who find communication of any kind difficult. It fosters a spirit of ‘togetherness’ and is commonly used in special needs schools on a daily basis to the extent that all students, staff, parents/carers and visitors alike benefit from its use. Apart from anything else, it’s FUN to learn!

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