University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) have become the first organisation in the West Midlands to sign the British Sign Language (BSL) Charter.

The BSL Charter, drafted by the British Deaf Association (BDA), was signed by Andy Hardy, UHCW Chief Executive Officer, Barbara Hay, UHCW Head of Diversity, Linda Day, Vice Chair of the BDA, and Andrew Blincow, from the Coventry and Warwickshire Association for the Deaf.

The Trust has committed to two pledges on the charter which are to ensure access for Deaf people to information and services, and to consult with the local Deaf community on a regular basis.

Andy Hardy, CEO of UHCW NHS Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working with the BDA and our local Deaf community to make sure Deaf people continue to get the best care in our hospitals.

“I am very proud that UHCW NHS Trust has become the first organisation in the West Midlands to sign the BSL Charter and look forward to seeing more organisations in the area follow suit.”

Paul Redfern, Business Development Manager at the British Deaf Association (BDA) said: "The BDA is delighted that University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust has, by signing up to our BSL Charter, clearly demonstrated its commitment to ensuring that Deaf patients have equal access to its services.

“We would like to congratulate University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust for leading the way and demonstrating that compliance with the Equality Act 2010 is the way forward for Deaf BSL users who for too long have been excluded from full access to services like the rest of the wider community. It is a huge step forward for the BSL users of Coventry."

Barbara Hay, Head of Diversity at UHCW NHS Trust, said: “The signing of this BSL Charter marks the latest step on our journey to improving our care for patients who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

“We now need to continue working with our local community to make these pledges a reality.”

The BSL Charter was signed at an event held on Thursday, May 7, at the Henry Fry Community Centre.