The British Deaf Association (BDA) is delighted to announce that Doug Alker and Liz Scott Gibson have been awarded the 2016 BDA Medal of Honour. Peter Jackson has also been honoured with a BDA Chair’s Award.

The awards were announced at the BDA 125 Years Congress in Torquay.


Doug Alker

Doug Alker has been recognised for his tireless campaigning work engaging Deaf people in politics since the 1970s. He really came to prominence in the 1980s when Deaf people were questioning how the power was shared or not as the case may be. He set up the Federation of Deaf People (FDP) in 1997 and led national BSL marches in Westminster from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, pressuring the Government to recognise BSL with a legal status equal to Welsh and Gaelic. This gradually led to the Government recognising BSL as a language in its own right on 18th March 2003. Doug also inspired Deaf people to participate in the British political system from early 2000s. He is also well remembered for setting up an 1880 debating society, allowing people to express themselves freely on various topics such as education, employment, health and politics.

Liz Scott-Gibson

Liz Scott-Gibson has been recognised for her commitment and magnificent advocate leadership in the development of Sign Language and BSL/English interpreting work at the BDA as the first Director in this field. Her wider contributions have led to the setting up of the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters (SASLI), later the European Union of Sign Language Interpreters (EUSLI) and she later became its first President. She was involved in the inauguration of a World Wide Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI) and became their first President too! To this day, Liz continues to do much voluntary work in the field of interpreting and much of this is concentrated on the developing countries. She gives sterling support to Arab and South American countries with advice and workshops on sign language interpreting.


Peter Jackson

Peter has been recognised for his total dedication and service to the setting up and development of two organisations, the British Deaf History Society and the Institute of British Sign Language (iBSL). Peter is also recognised as one of Britain’s top Deaf historians. Peter was dedicated to ensuring that iBSL developed to become one of Britain’s established British Sign Language qualifications bodies, led and run by Deaf people for people learning BSL.  


Doug, Liz and Peter have been exceptional role models over the years and we are so proud that they have been nationally recognised.

Dr Terry Riley OBE, the Chair of the Association said “The 2016 BDA Medal of Honour is to recognise incredible individuals, like Doug and Liz, who have the confidence and courage to stand up for what they believe. The Medal is presented to inspirational individuals who work to improve the lives of Deaf people, making our wider society more inclusive and acceptable. I am also very proud to give the BDA Chair’s Award 2016 to Peter who has shown a strong passion and belief in both Deaf history and BSL qualifications-awarding work, making sure that he can pass it on to the right people to further develop his work in the future.”  


BDA Medal of Honour Citations (Doug and Liz) can be requested

About the British Deaf Association

The British Deaf Association (BDA), a registered charity in England, Wales and Scotland, was founded in 1890. BDA is the only Deaf-led organisation that represents the Deaf community. Its two main aims are the promotion of BSL and the right to bi-lingual education

The BDA stands for Deaf Equality, Access and Freedom of Choice and its work is focused on Deaf people being independent and able to make informed decisions. Deaf people can do anything a hearing person can – they just use a different language to do it. The charity champions the rights of Deaf people to use their first language – British Sign Language, which is a language in its own right, separate and distinct from spoken English.

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