More organisations commit to the BSL Charter

paul redfern present bel charter

Paul Redfern reports on some exciting recent developments involving the BDA’s BSL Charter.

The last few weeks have been good ones for the BSL Charter. For those of you who don’t know what the BSL Charter is, it’s a document that the BDA developed to encourage public bodies to improve access for BSL users. We have five pledges – the most important is the one to consult with the Deaf community regularly on how to improve access to services.

There are three main steps – first a signing ceremony, which is often watched by local Deaf people and then an action plan which also needs to be checked with the Deaf community. The third stage is an assessment where we check that progress has been made and we check with the Deaf community that they are satisfied with the progress.

So the signing ceremony is an important step forward and we had three big ones recently. First was the first ever Interpreting Agency to sign up to the BSL Charter. Some of you will have seen BDA’s Facebook page where Communication Unlimited (CU) in Derby signed up. So of course, we are delighted and we hope more Interpreting Agencies follow.

doncaster children's services trust sign bsl charterThe second one was Doncaster Children’s Services Trust – this is the first time that a Children’s Service has signed the BSL Charter. The signing ceremony was held in Doncaster Deaf Trust and we have already been discussing how they can develop good relations with Doncaster’s Deaf community. The Children’s Services Trust are responsible for fostering, adoptions and also safeguarding children so that is an important organisation and we were very pleased they signed up.

The third one was ADEPT. This is the Association of Deaf Education Professionals and Trainees. They are the first national organisation to sign the BSL Charter. Again, this is very exciting as this sends out a strong message to all schools which have deaf children that BSL is important. Some of you will have seen my Tweets about being at their conference.

The other exciting development is that I went to the Mayor of London’s office to meet with the Equality team and they are very enthusiastic about signing the BSL Charter. There will be a lot of work first before the Mayor can sign it because it is a complicated process.

We are working on a few things – we are improving the BSL Charter and developing the webpage so all the information will be on there – in both BSL and English. We also hope to launch the new NHS England Checklist for health organisations later this year. So a lot of things happening, but an exciting time and we now have 33 organisations signed up to the BSL Charter with more to come.

The BDA’s Charter for British Sign Language (BSL) is designed as a vehicle to remove direct and indirect discrimination, empower local deaf communities and resolve conflicts between service providers and Deaf people. Its aim is to increase awareness of Deaf issues and BSL issues and provide better educational opportunities for Deaf children.

Paul Redfern is Senior Community Development Manager at the BDA.