The British Deaf Association (BDA) launched Sign Language Week in March 2003 following the Government’s initial acknowledgment of British Sign Language (BSL) as a language in its own right.
At that time however, BSL did not receive recognition or protection in law. After decades of campaigning for legal recognition, the BDA launched the successful BSL Act Now! campaign during Sign Language Week 2021. Just over a year later, Parliament passed the BSL Act (2022) which recognised British Sign Language as an indigenous language of Great Britain. It was a truly historic moment.
The BSL Act Now! campaign was led by the BDA, working collaboratively with other national deaf organisations such as RNID, the Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD), Signature, Institute of British Sign Language (iBSL), SignHealth, the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS), National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD), and Black Deaf UK. These organisations represent the incredible diversity of the Deaf community in the UK.
The BSL Act 2022 came into force on 28 June 2022. However, implementation of the Act has yet to begin. A BSL Advisory Board, tasked with providing personal and expert advice to the government on the implementation of the Act, is now being formed. Its Co-Chair is Craig Crowley MBE.
Awareness of and appreciation for British Sign Language and the Deaf community is growing year upon year, but some important misunderstandings remain. The BDA’s mission is to protect, preserve and promote BSL and encourage more people across the UK to learn about our beautiful, unique, visual language – one of the indigenous languages of Great Britain.