Assembly wants Mayor to sign up to British Sign Language Charter

02 March 2016

The London Assembly today urged the Mayor of London to set an example and sign up the Greater London Authority (GLA) to the British Deaf Association British Sign Language (BSL) Charter.

The Assembly supports the BSL Charter and unanimously agreed a motion calling for the Mayor to embody the BSL Charter within his Equality Strategy, in order to improve life for d/Deaf people.

Navin Shah AM, who proposed the amended motion said:

“Breaking down barriers for d/Deaf people in the capital should be at the heart of the Mayor’s London-wide equality strategies. We need to take every step possible to overcome the language barrier which stands in the way of d/Deaf people fully enjoying all that comes with living in London. The Mayor can take such a step by signing up to the British Sign Language (BSL) Charter.

The British Deaf Association has established principles that will boost accessibility for d/Deaf people in London and increase awareness amongst their fellow Londoners. But the work simply cannot stop there and our efforts must now turn to pushing for the rollout of the BSL Charter across London."

Andrew Boff AM, who seconded the amended motion said:

“The d/Deaf community deserve the same level of access to information and health services as anyone else and concrete actions are needed to make this a reality.

It is vitally important that this charter by the British Deaf Association should be adopted by all local authorities across London without exception.

Discrimination, whether direct or otherwise, is unacceptable in today’s society and this charter is a sensible step towards eliminating it.”

The full text of the Motion is:

d/Deaf people face many barriers when trying to access information or services; either through lack of awareness or language barriers. As a consequence, the British Deaf Association has established the following principles to tackle these issues:

  • Ensure better access to information and services;
  • Promote learning and teaching of BSL;
  • Support d/Deaf children and families;
  • Ensuring staff can communicate effectively in BSL; and
  • Consult with local d/Deaf community regularly.

Harrow has recently become the second London Borough Council to sign up the BSL Charter with Harrow United Deaf Club. The London Assembly acknowledges that this is a good start but requires much greater take up of the BSL Charter across London by local authorities, stakeholder and voluntary groups.

The London Assembly support and promote the British Sign Language (BSL) Charter created by the British Deaf Association with the aim of improving life for d/Deaf people by removing direct and indirect discrimination. It also aims to empower d/Deaf people as well as increasing awareness of British Sign Language (BSL) and d/Deaf issues. 

The Assembly also notes the extensive work of Andrew Boff’s rapporteur report on access to health services for d/Deaf people, including the key recommendation to develop a universal standard for British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting, which should be provided in GP surgeries and hospitals.

The London Assembly calls on the Mayor to sign up to the Charter on behalf of the GLA, to improve access and rights for d/Deaf BSL users across the functional bodies. The London Assembly further urges the Mayor of London to embody Charter of BSL in his Londonwide equalities strategies, including actively promoting it to Local Authorities across London.

Notes to editors

  1. Watch the full webcast.
  2. The amended motion was agreed unanimously at a meeting of the full Assembly today.
  3. Navin Shah AM who proposed the motion is available for interviews. Please see contact details below. 
  4. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Lisa Lam on 020 7983 4067.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officerNon-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.