British Sign Language campaigner MP Rosie Cooper urges deaf BSL users to apply for place on BSL Advisory Board

Campaigning Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper is urging deaf members of the public who use British Sign Language to consider applying for a seat on the BSL Advisory Board.

By Fiona Finch
Tuesday, 19th July 2022, 3:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th July 2022, 3:51 pm

Rosie, who was successful in getting Parliament to change the law to recognise British Sign Language (BSL) as an official language, spoke out again after the Government launched its official recruitment process for the Board.

The West Lancashire MP said deaf people living in England, Scotland or Wales should consider applying.

The British Sign Language (BSL) Act 2022, which was presented to Parliament by Rosie Cooper and received royal assent in April, requires the Government to produce guidance on how they should be promoting and protecting the use of BSL, including in public facing Government departments.

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper Photo: PA Wire

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The new advisory Board will ensure Deaf BSL users provide personal and expert advice to government on the key issues impacting the Deaf community which need to be reflected in future guidance.

Rosie said: “The British Sign Language Act has always been about including Deaf people in the development of the Government’s BSL policies. The Advisory Board is essential to this, and we need deaf people from all walks of life to be involved so that the guidance is as far reaching as possible. This isn’t just open to campaigners and academics, but to any Deaf people that want to help shape an inclusive future for the Deaf community. I am encouraging deaf clubs across the England, Scotland and Wales to nominate at least one person to be considered for a spot on the Advisory Board."

Rosie, who grew up using sign language with her deaf parents, said: “This BSL Board is the first chance for the Deaf community to really tell the Government what they are doing wrong, what could be better and what MUST change.”

The board will comprise of at least 16 members plus two co-chairs, with a majority of Deaf BSL signers including Deafblind and/or those with Usher’s syndrome who tactile sign. For board members and the independent co-chair the main criteria for appointment is a lived experience of BSL and willingness to assist government to improve deaf users’ access to services.