BDA’s call follows Green candidate Simeon Hart’s criticism of the closure of the Access to Elected Office for Disabled People Fund

The British Deaf Association (BDA) is disappointed to learn that a government delay in reviewing the future of its Access to Elected Office for Disabled People is currently hindering a Deaf person: Green Candidate Simeon Hart at the forthcoming Parliamentary by-election in Oldham West and Royston on 3rd December.

This Access funding helps disabled and deaf candidates to have the additional communication support they need whist canvassing and enables Deaf people to take part in the democratic process on an equal footing with other candidates. The delay in this means Simeon now has to pay for his own BSL / English interpreters, which is an additional costs of £10-23K which other candidates do not have to bear. 

Democracy is the cornerstone to Parliament and equal and fair representation, it enables us to have diverse and selective candidates irrespective of their views.  

David Buxton, BDA’s Director of Campaigns and Communications, said: “We are disappointed that the Government has not yet made a decision about whether this vital funding will continue. This delay creates uncertainty for potential Deaf and disabled candidates who wish to stand at elections next year and are currently unsure whether they will get the support they need towards communication and other areas. It is imperative that a decision is made immediately as selection meetings for some areas have already started to take place." 

“We now urge the Government to prove their commitment to the spirit of the Equality Act by supporting diversity and allocating funds now to any potential candidate, as well as to Simeon who is now actively canvassing. We also expect them to complete their evaluation and review about the future of the fund as soon as possible."

BDA, a registered charity which has been a pioneer and champion of Deaf people since it was founded in 1890, is driven by two main aims: the promotion of British Sign Language (BSL) – which is a language in its own right, separate and distinct from spoken English – and the right to bi-lingual education in the United Kingdom. The organisation’s vision is one of Deaf Equality, Access and Freedom of Choice.