2022 was a momentous year for the deaf and BSL community, with many legal challenges – won and lost – and a variety of occurrences bringing deafness to the fore of public consciousness.
National BSL Day
The British Deaf Association (BDA) has announced that April 28 has been selected as National BSL Day. Their website announces:
To commemorate this milestone, the BDA has proposed that the Deaf community now celebrate National BSL Day every year on 28 April.
Scotland will have its own celebrations on 17 September to mark the passage of the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015 and 22 October to mark the Royal Assent of that Act.
The Northern Ireland Assembly is working on its own legislation to cover the two sign languages used in Northern Ireland: BSL and ISL (Irish Sign Language).
Why another day?
Whilst seeming like a positive step, there has been some pushback from within the community in closed Facebook groups, asking who decided on this day and whether it is meaningful or arbitrary. March 18th is already celebrated as a day where sign language is celebrated and this has gained traction from within schools, churches and the government. Does another day add strength to the cause, or dilute it for other purposes?
It is certainly an imperative that the community works together to provide clear messaging and a coherent voice to the wider community on what the priorities are for the language and the progression of deaf rights. As we have learned, achievements can only be won if the whole community works together. There is still much to be done, as Liam O’Dell outlined for us in his article in mid-2022.
Positive steps you can take
Whatever steps are taken by the community and its allies, hearing allies (current and prospective) can always take a positive step forward by learning BSL. We have a number of articles detailing the reasons why everyone should learn sign language and how to start your journey:
- BSL is a hot topic – what you need to know
- To pay or not – BSL Courses
- 10 things hearing people could do to support deaf people
As the article listed above – ‘To pay or not – BSL Courses’ – mentioned, here are a few important things to consider when starting out:
Be discerning. As with any course, car or piece of technology, do your research first! Perhaps think about the following:
- Why do I want to do the course? Is it just to learn a little signing or do I want to use this in my workplace?
- Who is this organisation offering this course? Are they established in the Deaf or language learning field? Do they have a reputation for providing quality courses?
- Is this organisation a registered provider with either Signature?
- Is the cost reasonable for the length and level of course being offered?
- Who is teaching the course? Are they Deaf themselves or a native user? Do they have teaching qualifications? Have they been trained to deliver this level of course?
We at Deaf Unity provide a range of recognised, accredited courses which are all taught by qualified, native BSL tutors. If you are interested in joining a course, have a look at our listings.
Let’s see what 2023 continues to deliver for the community, and how we can work together to make meaningful strides in our unified goal of equity for all.
Looking for more support? We’ve made it our mission to improve the lives of deaf people everywhere. Check out Deaf Unity’s projects to find out what we can do for you. If you’d like to get in touch, contact us here.