Birmingham City Council has committed to signing up to The British Sign Language (BSL) Charter during a ceremony on December 14.

The charter aims to improve equality of access to services and to demonstrate a commitment towards the Deaf community – and the council agreed to sign up after working with the British Deaf Association and the Birmingham Deaf Forum.

BSL is recognised by the British Government as a language in its own right – just as any other indigenous language used in the UK.

The charter itself is seen a useful way for local authorities to translate their legal duties under the Equality Act 2010 into practical, meaningful solutions for the deaf community.

Acting as a framework for local authorities and other public sector organisations to improve access for deaf people who use sign language, the charter has five pledges within it which are:

  1. Improve access for Deaf people to local services and information
  2. Promote learning and high-quality teaching of British Sign Language
  3. Support Deaf children and families
  4. Ensure staff working with Deaf people can communicate effectively in British Sign Language
  5. Consult with our local Deaf community on a regular basis

Cllr Shafique Shah, Cabinet Member for Inclusion and Community Safety, said: “Deaf people using council services here in Birmingham have a right to access them as easily as possible.

“As a council we believe in fairness – so our commitment to signing the BSL Charter is an important step towards demonstrating that we are dedicated to improving services for all.”

Dr Terry Riley OBE, Chairman of British Deaf Association (BDA) added: “BDA are delighted that Birmingham City Council have now signed up to the BSL Charter.

“The Charter is designed to empower local Deaf groups to work in partnership with service providers and Deaf people and we commend them for doing this.

“We are really looking forward to working closely with Birmingham City Council to help improve access and rights for Deaf people who use BSL and encourage more consultation with the Deaf community living in the city.”