Council commits to British Sign Language Charter

By on 15/12/2015 in Cllr Shah, News
Cllr Shafique Shah, Mashuq Ally, Sean Noone and Dr Terry Riley sign the British Sign Language Charter.

Cllr Shafique Shah, Mashuq Ally, Sean Noone and Dr Terry Riley sign the British Sign Language Charter.

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.”


Notes to editors

Photo caption (left to right): Cllr Shafique Shah, Cabinet member for Inclusion and Community Safety; Mashuq Ally, Assistant director for equalities, community safety and cohesion; Sean Noone, Chair of Birmingham Deaf Community Group; and Dr Terry Riley MBE, Chairman of the British Deaf Association.

To view a finger spelling chart, please click here

Free BSL finger-spelling apps are also available from App Crawler ( and Mobilesign (

If any citizens need information transcribed into an accessible format, or to arrange sign language interpreting, please ask a member of council staff.

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 UK’s largest Deaf-led organisation, member-elected to promote the interests of the Deaf community and BSL. Its primary goal is to achieve legal status for BSL.

BDA stands for Deaf Equality, Access and Freedom of Choice (DEAF). The BDA’s primary goal is to achieve legal status for BSL. The BDA champions the right of Deaf people to use BSL as their first or preferred language. BSL is a language in its own right, separate and distinct from the UK’s other indigenous languages. The BDA firmly believes every Deaf child has the right to access bilingual and bicultural education, acquiring both BSL and English.Deaf people have a rich cultural history and take pride in their Deaf identity, language and heritage.

For more information on British Deaf Association, please go to

For more media information contact Kris Kowalewski at Birmingham City Council on 0121 303 3621

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