|British Sign Language (BSL) is the first or preferred language of around 250,000 Deaf people in the UK. It is a language of space and movement using the hands, body, face and head. Around 120,000 hearing people also use BSL, meaning it is used more than Welsh or Gaelic.
Since the BDA started in 1890, we have been campaigning for Deaf people’s right to use BSL, to be educated in BSL, and to access information and services through BSL. We believe this is the best way for Deaf people to take part in society, equally to hearing people. That is why we campaigned for the government to recognise BSL.
BSL was recognised as an official British language by the UK government on 18th March 2003, but it does not have any legal protection. This means that Deaf people do not have full access to information and services that hearing people take for granted, including education, health and employment.
The BDA wants BSL to be legalised, which will give BSL users the legal right to use it, bringing years of language discrimination to an end.