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Sign Language

Volume 410: debated on Monday 18 August 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 17 July 2003, Official Report, column 527W (1) what progress the British Sign Language working group has made towards distributing the money his Department has allocated to the recognition of British Sign Language; and if he will make a statement on how this programme of initiatives will increase access to services and the number of BSL interpreters; [130769](2) if he will make a statement on his Department's continued support for the implementation of the recognition of British Sign Language further to the money allocated on 18 March. [130723]

The British Sign Language working group, which is an advisory group, has met twice to consider priorities for allocating the additional £1 million we have made available, and to consider draft specifications for initiatives which would best support the 18 March statement. We have received the working group's recommendations which involve action to promote access for BSL users through awareness raising, and action which will contribute to establishing a framework to support BSL tutors. Over time this will result in an increase in the number of BSL interpreters. Officials will shortly start a formal tendering exercise.The working group will also be doing some longer- term strategic thinking and we will receive their advice in due course on policies and initiatives which would, over time, further increase access for deaf people who use BSL.