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Liberal Democrats

F5: Expanding the Use of British Sign Language

Motion as passed by conference

Proposed by: 10 members

Mover: Christine Jardine MP.

Summation: Wera Hobhouse MP.


Conference notes:

  1. The House of Commons Petition “Make British Sign Language part of the National Curriculum”, which collected over 30,000 signatures from across the UK.
  2. That British Sign Language was recognised as a language in its own right by the UK Government in 2003.
  3. That British Deaf Association figures suggest that 151,000 people currently can speak BSL in the UK including 87,000 hearing impaired users.
  4. That qualifications for BSL currently exist to level 6 NVQ.
  5. Extensive research suggesting that the best time to learn a second language is during the ages of six to puberty.

Conference believes that:

  1. All deaf and hearing-impaired individuals have the right to participate in society fully and independently and too often these rights are not fully realised.
  2. British Sign Language should have equal status to the UK’s other official languages.
  3. Modern languages are a vital part of a modern education programme.

Conference therefore calls for:

  1. The rapid introduction of GSCE equivalent qualifications in BSL in England.
  2. The Department for Education to commission a feasibility study into the introduction of BSL lessons in primary schools to embed the teaching of basic BSL from an early age, with expert findings to be offered to devolved education departments.

Applicability: Federal; except 1. and 2. (lines 21–26), which are England only.


Mover: 5 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes.

For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 9. To submit a speaker’s card go to: www.libdems.org.uk/speakers-card.

The deadline for amendments to this motion – see page 12 – and for requests for separate votes – see page 9 – is 13.00, Monday 28 February. Those selected for debate will be published in the Conference Extra and Friday Conference Daily updates to the Conference Agenda.