Usdaw joins calls for British Sign Language to get the same recognition as other languages

Date: 20 March 2017 Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett has joined calls for British Sign Language (BSL) to given the same legal status as other British languages and for it to be included on the national curriculum for schools.
Last week Dawn Butler MP made history by being the first to ask a question in the House of Commons using British Sign Language. She asked, “Will the Minister agree (it is) time to bring and get British Sign Language legal status like other recognised languages.”

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We fully support the campaigning efforts of Dawn Butler MP, the British Deaf Association and others. Our hope is that the Secretary of State finally commits to giving BSL full legal status. 

“The Scottish Parliament unanimously backed the BSL (Scotland) Act, which was promoted by Usdaw member Mark Griffin MSP and commits to the preparation and publication of a British Sign Language National Plan for Scotland. It is time the rest of the UK followed suit.

“Usdaw has a proud record of supporting disabled members, by ensuring workplaces are accessible and negotiating reasonable adjustments issues that deaf workers face are regularly raised at our annual conference and spreading the understanding and use of sign language is a key policy aim of the union.

“We are currently producing a series of briefing papers on ‘hidden disabilities’, advising reps on how to best represent and support disabled workers. A briefing on deaf awareness for activists is due to be published soon.”

Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 435,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 10% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
PETITION - Make British Sign Language part of the National Curriculum: There are currently 11 million people within the United Kingdom with hearing loss. Some of these profoundly deaf - yet British Sign Language has still not been made a part of the national curriculum. I urge you all to sign this and make BSL a mandatory subject in schools.
For Usdaw press releases visit: and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

Share this page

Subscribe To eNews

Subscribe to receive our regular email updates and you will be entered into a FREE prize draw.

The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers