British Sign Language (BSL) Act Now Rally in London
BSL and Deaf Studies students and lecturers joined the BSL Rally for the BSL Bill – 3rd Reading
On Friday 18 March 2022, students and lecturers from the UCLan BSL and Deaf Studies course travelled from Preston to London, along with over 3,000 others, to attend the BSL rally hosted by the British Deaf Association in support of the BSL Bill. The rally was held in Trafalgar Square and there was a packed programme of speakers to entertain the crowd until the official outcome was televised. The BSL Bill had its 3rd reading in the Houses of Parliament. The private members' bill was presented by Rosie Cooper, who is the MP for West Lancashire. This date already had significance in the Deaf community as the date on which BSL was recognised as an official language of the UK. This Bill, 19 years later, would now give it legal status.
"Proud to have spent the day campaigning for Deaf Rights and access with the University of Central Lancashire - UCLan Deaf Studies course!"— Sarah Jacobs, BA (Hons) in British Sign Language and Deaf Studies.
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The Strictly Come Dancing winner 2022, Rose Ayling-Ellis, gave a moving and rousing speech about the importance of the Bill. We also had performances from Deaf comedian, John Smith, Deaf school children and a poem was read by the first Deaf chair of the British Association of Teachers of the Deaf (BATOD), Martine Monksfield. There was also a fantastic showcase of Deaf arts. UCLan was invited to address the crowd and Dr Junhui Yang was able to publicise the BSL and Deaf Studies course and also explain its wonderful 30-year history and contribution to the Deaf community.
The parliamentary reading was partly televised to the crowd everyone was able to watch the vote live, the ‘ayes’ had it and the square erupted into Deaf applause to celebrate this momentous occasion. What a wonderful day!