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Celebration of sign language

Celebration of Sign Language

As of Wednesday the 28th of April, British Sign Language (BSL) is now recognised by law as an official language of England, Scotland and Wales. BSL is the first language of 87,000 across the UK, and it is used by over 151,000. This means that before this bill was passed, thousands of people were unable to access services and information in their first language.

What this means in terms of governance is that 20 government departments are now required by law to produce reports on what they have done to “promote and facilitate” use of BSL in their communications with the public.

This is a huge step forward for the deaf community and will hopefully make a real difference to deaf people’s experiences of school, work and in day to day life. To celebrate, let’s take a look at BSL in every day life and its influence on our lives.

BSL in Everyday Life

There are some things in life that as a fully hearing person, it is easy to take for granted. For example, travelling by train. TransPennine Express have set out to lead the way in the form of a new interpretation service.  This service allows deaf or hard of hearing individuals to be able to contact an interpreter either at the station or via the PransPennine website. This may not seem like a big deal for a hearing person, however for the deaf community it is a great tool. Not only does it allow deaf customers greater support and confidence while travelling, but it also gives BSL and deaf people the recognition and understanding.

Another market leader in terms of setting the standard of BSL in every day life is CPL Learning. The hospitality employee development partner has launched a free online training course for BSL in the hospitality sector. This will enable team members to be able to better communicate and interact with guests. “Sign language is a beautiful and fun language to learn and initiate, and it contributes to a more inclusive society” says Jamie Campbell, Director of Learning at CPL.  The course also looks at the challenges that deaf people face when dining out, or even when just stopping for a quick coffee in their local café.

British Sign Language in Pop Culture

A couple of years ago, sign language interpreter Amber Galloway Gallego went viral after a video of her interpreting at a rap concert hit the internet. The video shows her signing along to speed rapper Twista and the crowd loving it! Galloway Gallego has since used her platform to advocate for the BSL community in the US, and has even done a TedTalk on how sign language can bring music to life.

Staying in the music industry, Olivia Rodrigo made headlines when she bought a BSL interpreter with her onto the Grammys 2022 red carpet. One fan tweeted “I could cry watching @oliviarodrigo talking on the Red Carpet and having a sign language interpreter with her.” Rodrigo found fame in her role in the reboot of High School Musical, and it is so refreshing to see someone using their platform to champion accessibility to a younger audience.

One of the more high-profile activists instrumental in passing the BSL Law is soap star Rose Ayling-Ellis. The Strictly Come Dancing winner recently thanked those behind organising the Queens Platinum Jubilee for having a team of interpreters at the Party at the Palace event. For an event with over 13 million viewers, Party at the Palace was a huge platform to show support of BSL, and will have set a high standard for future events of this size.

BSL for Emergency Services

999 BSL, created by Sign Language Interactions, is a new service being rolled out to enable deaf people to make emergency calls using sign language. Users simply need to open the app or the webpage and press a red button which will connect them to an interpreter. There is a text service that already exists, but this is the next step to ensure that the deaf community have the same access to emergency services as the hearing population.

What’s next for British Sign Language?

So, what’s next? There will always be more that can be done, but by making BSL an official language, it pushes the deaf community one step closer to reaching equality, and having access to services that the rest of the nation do.

Here at Matinée, we aim to champion accessibility and we are very excited both by the new BSL law and for the future of the language. So, let us help you to ensure you’re reaching a wider audience by including BSL in your communications.

With one in six people living with hearing loss, you can make sure your content is inclusive and ready to be enjoyed by all by adding an on-screen signer to communicate your message. We can transcribe your video, film the signer relaying your message in British Sign Language, and lay this back over the original to produce a piece of audio-visual content that viewers who are hard of hearing can enjoy.

Get in touch with us today and our sales team will be happy to talk you through the process.

Call us on +44 (0) 118 958 4934 Or email project@matinee.co.uk