London Assembly unanimously passed a motion proposed by me, on 2nd March to empower deaf Londoners to help them to have access to information and services London-wide. Through the motion we urged the Mayor of London to promote British Sign Language (BSL) Charter in all Boroughs of London. Following is the text of my address at City Hall when I moved the motion which was seconded by Assembly Member Andrew Boff,
“I am delighted to move this motion and warmly welcome deaf residents as well as the representatives of the British Deaf Association who are in the public gallery (of City Hall) to witness a positive outcome.
It takes leadership and assertiveness which is what Asif Iqbal MBE has provided in bringing forward deaf people’s cause. Thank you Asif for your persistence and vision.
I am an Ambassador for the Harrow United Deaf Club and it was my pleasure to support the endorsement of the British Sign Language (BSL) Charter recently by Harrow Council in conjunction with Harrow United Deaf Club led by Asif Iqbal.
It is important deaf residents are fully involved with our community and that they have the right to equal access to all services and have their voice heard by all the community.
As the motion states deaf people face significant barriers when requiring to access to information or services. There are cultural and social barriers and implications too.
This is why the British Deaf Association has established the following five key objectives to:
l Ensure better access to information and services;
l Promote learning and teaching of British Sign Language;
l Support Deaf children and families;
l Ensure staff can communicate effectively in BSL; and
l Consult with local Deaf community regularly.
Currently only two Boroughs Harrow and Camden have signed up and made a commitment to implement the Charter. This is a step in the rights direction but through this motion I wish to see eventually and as soon as possible all London Boroughs to endorse the charter and implement measures to remove barriers to information and services and improve the quality of life of deaf people. The charter is a worthy and powerful tool which requires much wider take up too by other bodies like stakeholder/voluntary groups and the private sector.
We also recognise the valuable work of the London Assembly’s Health Committee to improve access to health services for deaf people together with the recommendation to develop universal standard for BSL interpreting in GP surgeries and hospitals. I’m also pleased that London Assembly’s Transport Committee is meeting on 9th March to address the issues faced by Londoners with sensory impairment.
In conclusion, BSL Charter is about breaking down barriers and it’s about removing discrimination deaf people face and providing them equal opportunities. I commend the Mayor of London to sign up the Charter in behalf of the Greater London Authority. I also urge the Mayor to incorporate the principles of the charter in the London wide ‘Equalities Strategies’ for promotion and implementation pf BSL Charter across London’s Local Authorities and further afield. Let this be a momentous occasion.”
For full details of the motion please visit the GLA or contact my office.