New British Sign Language (BSL) Charter

Yesterday, the BDA reported that “the London Assembly agreed on a motion that calls on the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to sign up to the British Deaf Association (BDA)’s British Sign Language (BSL) Charter on behalf of the GLA during a Plenary session at City Hall.”

The aim of this Charter is to improve access and rights for Deaf BSL users across Government organisations and remove direct and indirect discrimination in line with the Equalities Act (2010).

The Charter is made up of five pledges, which one can be signed up to, or a number of individual pledges combined.

Here are the 5 pledges:

  • Ensure better access to information and services
  • Promote the learning and teaching of BSL
  • Support Deaf children and families
  • Ensuring staff can communicate effectively in BSL
  • Consult with the local Deaf community regularly

Take a look here at all 5 pledges in detail here –

When public services sign up for the Charter, they receive the BSL Charter itself and an accompanying document with information on the demographics of the local Deaf community and further detailed information.

It then looks at the communication and access issues that are being faced and seeks ways to resolve these by working in partnership with the BDA over several meetings.  They consult the BDA’s toolkit and use the checklist to see what they are already doing and identify any gaps that require action.

Asif Iqbal MBE, President of Harrow United Deaf Club and BDA Trustee, said: 


“This is a momentous day in history and a breakthrough for many Deaf Londoners. It was through sheer hard work with Navin Shah AM, who was supportive of Harrow Council’s BSL Charter, that led to the London Assembly passing a motion urging the Mayor of London to sign up for BSL. I’m thrilled at the success of this motion. Now the real hard work will begin as we look at how we can move forward with the implementation of this Charter. I hope the Mayor of London will take forward the London Assembly recommendation and embrace these changes and commit to engaging with Deaf residents”.

Navin Shah, London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, said:


“I am delighted that the London Assembly has supported the motion, urging the Mayor of London to sign up to the BSL Charter. It’s crucial that Deaf people benefit from the objectives of the Charter. This is why I urge Boris to embody it in London-wide equality strategies and actively promote it to Local Authorities across London.

“I proudly support Harrow Council’s endorsement of the BSL Charter, and I will be continuing to work with Harrow United Deaf Club on this actively.”


The BDA report that “other cities who have now signed up to the Charter include; Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham, Blackpool and Derby. The Charter has also been signed by 13 health organisations and two police services in the Midlands.”

Navin Shah, who proposed this motion, is an Ambassador of Harrow United Deaf Club and a London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow.  Harrow Council were recently the second Council in London to opt into the Charter.

At this stage, it is purely a motion urging the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson to sign up for the BSL Charter….so watch this space!

What positive effects do you think this Charter will have on Deaf people in the UK?

Do you think that this Charter has what it takes to remove direct and indirect discrimination?

Let us know your thoughts….

Yours, Victoria