British Sign Language (BSL) - used by around 150,000 people in total according to the British Deaf Association - is now legally recognised as a language of Great Britain. As equality law is devolved in Northern Ireland, the Act does not extend to Northern Ireland, in recognition of the existence of both British and Irish Sign Language among the Northern Irish deaf community.
The British Sign Language Act 2022 received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022. It will help ensure all public services and information are accessible to Deaf people who use BSL. The Act requires the government to report how relevant ministerial departments are using BSL in communications with the public on policy and changes to the law. An independent BSL Advisory Board will advise the government on implementation and represent the Deaf community.
The Act will encourage the government to improve how it engages with and meets the needs of the Deaf community. It complements and extends what government organisations are already doing to ensure communications are accessible to all.
If you have experience of using BSL in policy communications - and perhaps are willing to share a case study - please get in touch by leaving a comment.