News release: University celebrates as BSL becomes official

Media and Promotion Office (2003) News release: University celebrates as BSL becomes official. Other. University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Preston.

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Deaf students, lecturers from the Deaf Studies programme and staff from the Specialised
Learning Resource Unit at the University of Central Lancashire are celebrating last week's
Government announcement that it now recognises British Sign Language as a language in
its own right.
UCLan lays claim to the largest Deaf student population in the country and many of the
students have been prominent in the campaign to secure government recognition of BSL.
They were delighted when Andrew Smith, the Secretary of State for the Department of
Work and Pensions, and Maria Eagle, Minister for Disabled People made their
announcement on 18th March.
The Government now understands that BSL users want their language to be protected and
promoted, in the same way that other minority languages are, by the Council of Europe's
Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. The Ministers said they will give careful
consideration to any proposals which the Council of Europe might make.
At UCLan, dozens of Deaf students are enrolled on courses across the University, and the
Deaf Studies team runs several degree courses which are popular among Deaf and hearing
students. UCLan is also the only higher education establishment in the country which
offers a post-graduate diploma for sign language interpreters.
"Staff here have devoted much of their working careers to this issue," says Graham Turner,
Senior Lecturer in Deaf Studies at UCLan. "We have worked alongside partners nationally
and internationally, to enhance understanding and, through our research, to develop the
evidence base for a more enlightened policy framework in relation to sign language. This
is a real milestone achievement for the Deaf community.
''The lack of recognition of BSL really was a fundamental problem for the Deaf community
because if people fail to recognise a person's language, they also fail to recognise
something that's absolutely crucial to that person's identity.
"The challenge is now to turn Government rhetoric, and an initial £!million of dedicated
funding, into a reality in which Deaf people's human rights are fully acknowledged and
quality access to all areas of public life is comprehensively resourced and delivered."
Other organisations such as the British Deaf Association (BDA), the Federation of Deaf
People (FDP) and the UK Council on Deafness also expressed their delight at the
government announcement.
26th March 2003
Note to editors: For further information, please contact Graham Turner, Dept of Education
& Social Science, tel: 01772 893108, or Lynne Barnes, tel: 01772 893098.

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