Deaf history is important to profoundly deaf people who use British Sign Language (BSL) as their first or main language. Understanding Deaf* history and the impact of Parliamentary decisions on those with profound hearing loss is key to appreciating the barriers faced by sign language users in the modern world. (Deaf* refers to native sign language users who view themselves as members of a linguistic minority).
Deaf people have fought for equality for over 100 years. Like many other minority groups, identity politics features heavily in the campaign for equlity because many sign language users do not see themselves as having a disability. Instead, BSL is seen as the foundation for a rich culture, history and community.
BSL was only officially recognised in 2003 but still does not have legal protection, unlike Welsh or Cornish. However, recent events in Scotland (British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015) should increase access to services for those who use BSL. The Deaf community in the rest of the UK will have to wait until the British government decides that BSL should be protected by law.
The internet has helped increase interest in British Sign Language by both members of the public and politicians. Hopefully, BSL’s popularity will translate into equality and improved access.
Our deaf tutors teach our students the fundamentals of Deaf history and the rich culture within BSL. As students progress and become more fluent in BSL, they become involved in the Deaf community. Many students enjoy becoming part of a community that holds strong values of unity