Deaf people around the UK are celebrating a fantastic win and a vital step towards the legal recognition of British Sign Language (BSL), after the BSL Bill passed its second reading unanimously in the House of Commons today.

BSL is the first language of 87,000 Deaf people in the UK and is used by tens of thousands of others to support their communication. The language was formally recognised by the UK government in 2003 but does not yet have full legal status, meaning many Deaf people are unable to access essential information and services in their first language.

Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive at RNID (Royal National Institute of the Deaf), said:

“This is a momentous day for the Deaf community where we celebrate moving a massive step closer to full legal recognition for BSL. We are thrilled that the Bill has been approved in principle by MPs and will now move onto the next stages of the legislative process. The Bill includes important mechanisms which will provide government departments and public services with guidance explaining how they are required to meet the needs of BSL users. This will help ensure BSL users are fully included in society. We celebrate with the Deaf community today and we hope parliamentarians will now give Rosie Cooper all the support she needs to get this Bill passed into legislation and give BSL and deaf people the recognition they deserve”.