Dawn Butler MP, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, held a meeting with the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) at Labour Party Conference to discuss important issues facing deaf children and young people across the UK.
Dawn met with Erin, a young deaf person, as well as representatives of the NDCS. The meeting focussed on the NDCS’ Right to Sign campaign which aims to improve access to British Sign Language (BSL) in schools, a cause backed by Dawn, as well as what can be done to improve children’s hearing services in Brent and elsewhere.
Dawn Butler MP said:
I was pleased to meet with Erin and representatives from the National Deaf Children’s Society at Labour Conference to hear Erin’s story and about the challenges facing young deaf people in this country. We simply must do more to tackle the inequality facing the deaf community and one important step must be to improve access to British Sign Language in schools.
I commend the National Deaf Children’s Society for their important Right to Sign campaign on this issue. It is so important that deaf children and BSL users are able to access education in their first language and it would also break down barriers. That is why I am also backing a petition, started by my friend Wayne Barrow, to make British Sign Language part of the National Curriculum and I hope we will have the opportunity to debate this important topic in Parliament.
I am passionate in my belief that equality is equality, you cannot pick and choose, which is why I will continue fighting to improve hearing services in our local community and the rights of the deaf community across the UK. I encourage everyone to tune into Channel 4 on Wednesday 4th October at 7.55pm where I will be covering this exact issue in my own Political Slot.
Dawn and the NDCS also discussed the provision of hearing services by local authorities, including audiology services. Ms Butler recently wrote to the local council and Brent CCG to urge local authorities to come up with a plan of action to improve such services for the deaf community.
Dawn has long campaigned to improve the rights of deaf and hard of hearing people. In March 2017, to celebrate the start of Sign Language Week 2017, Dawn became the first Member of Parliament to ever sign a question in the Commons using BSL when she pressed the government on whether they would give BSL full legal status as is afforded to other languages, which would give it further protection.
Following this campaign, Ms Butler signed the Labour Party manifesto using BSL and successfully campaigned for the manifesto to include a pledge to introduce a BSL Act, which would give BSL full legal status.