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British Sign Language

Volume 698: debated on Monday 28 June 2021

What recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to provide British Sign Language with full legal status. (901842)

On 18 March 2003, the UK Government formally recognised that British Sign Language is a language in its own right. Provision for accessing services by users of BSL are already covered by the Equality Act 2010 and the public sector equality duty.

My constituent Feras Al-Moubayed is engaged in a dispute with a high street bank but has been unsuccessful in his attempts to secure time with a BSL interpreter to sort through and categorise evidence documents for his case. As a result, he has missed several Financial Ombudsman Service deadlines, which has caused considerable stress and anxiety. If the Minister will not commit to bringing forward legislative proposals to provide BSL with a full legal status, will he commit to making more provision available to support people such as Mr Al-Moubayed in my constituency in the interim?

I thank the hon. Member for raising that matter; I encourage her also to raise it with our Treasury colleagues, because it sounds like additional support is needed. On the broad principle, I welcome the fact that the hon. Member for West Lancashire (Rosie Cooper), who has a great deal of personal experience in this area, is looking at a potential private Member’s Bill, for which I have offered my full support by hosting a roundtable with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, stakeholders and cross-Government officials to look at how the public sector equality duty and the Equality Act 2010 are or are not providing sufficient support for those who rely on BSL. I welcome all support in that area.