British Sign Language Bill – second reading

It was fantastic that on Friday in the House of Commons the Bill was approved at its second reading. The author of the Bill is Rosie Cooper who is the Labour MP for West Lancashire and there were a significant number of other MPs from across the political parties including Chloe Smith who is the Government Minister for the Department of Work and Pensions. One of the reasons I came across the debate was a comment made by Lilian Greenwood who stated “when we provide access for disabled people, we often improve public services for everyone? For example, the provision of audio-visual announcements on buses is helpful for disabled people, but it makes it easier for everyone to use them. That is a good reason for improving inclusivity.” which is a very helpful element for everyone on buses but it is also very encouraging for our industry which is keen to work to improve audio-visual aspects not just on buses but across society and in doing so to also introduce hearing loops. However that was not the main part of the debate which began with these few words from Rosie Cooper and ended with her words regarding Chloe Smith.

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

Today is a momentous day for many deaf people, one they thought would never come. I want to begin by acknowledging the people who have been instrumental in getting the Bill to this position—David Buxton, the chair of the British Deaf Association, who has led the “BSL Act Now!” campaign; and Rob Geaney, from the Royal National Institute for Deaf People—and some of the Bill’s many supporters, such as my hon. Friend Lilian Greenwood and Sir Mike Penning. So many people have supported the Bill and are willing it through that I do not propose to use this valuable time naming them all. They know who they are and I am grateful for their help.

And the last few words

Is it not fantastic that the Chamber has spoken with one voice today? It has been absolutely brilliant. I have enjoyed working with the Minister and her team. Look what a difference we have made by working together across the House. We have made a difference and we will make a difference.

On the behalf of the deaf community, I thank each and every Member for their support for the Bill. My dad would have loved to have been here today, as would all those campaigners who have gone before and upon whose shoulders we stand on this momentous day. Thank you, all. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”] [In British Sign Language: “Thank you, all.”]

It is vital that the Bill becomes law as soon as possible. In the meantime here is the whole of the debate that took place on Friday in the House of Commons.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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