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Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living

Penny Mordaunt becomes first ever government minister to use British Sign Language in Parliament

Date: 5/7/2018
Summary: Penny Mordaunt today became the first ever government minister to use British Sign Language in Parliament.

The Tory International Development Secretary announced a global disability conference to take place in London later this month.

"For too long in the world’s poorest countries, disabled people have not been able to reach their full potential because of stigma or not enough practical support."

She added: “I am proud to be focused on this area which has been neglected for too long. The conference will support the global effort to advance disability inclusion for some countries’ most vulnerable people.”

MPs from across the house applauded as she completed her statement.

Speaker John Bercow responded by saying - and signing - "That is good news."

While Ms Mordaunt is the first government minister, Labour's Shadow Women and Equalities minister Dawn Butler was the first MP to use British Sign Language in the Commons in a debate in March last year.

Susan Daniels, Chief Executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “It is fantastic to see the Minister using British Sign Language (BSL) in Parliament. There are a range of ways deaf people communicate but BSL is the first language of over 70,000 people in the UK.

"Despite this we rarely see it used in high profile places such as Parliament or in the media.

"That is precisely why moments like this are to be welcomed but they also highlight how far we have to go to reach real parity of esteem for BSL as a language.

“We are pushing the Government to move quickly to make sure that every child across the UK has the opportunity to achieve a qualification in BSL at school.

"Deaf children can achieve anything in life, if given the right support and we will keep campaigning to make sure this is a reality.”

Source: Daily Mirror


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