Swindon MP praises introduction of British Sign Language GCSE

By Barrie Hudson - 9 May 2024

  • South Swindon MP Sir Robert Buckland

    South Swindon MP Sir Robert Buckland

The introduction this September of a GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL) has won the praise of South Swindon MP Sir Robert Buckland.

The news comes in the midst of Deaf Awareness Week, which runs until 12 May.
Sir Robert said: "I warmly welcome the Conservative Government’s announcement of the introduction of a British Sign Language (BSL) GCSE in September to help break down barriers for the deaf community.

"This news follows the Conservative Government's introduction of the British Sign Language Act on 28th April 2022, when for the first time in our history, this legally recognised BSL as a language in England, Scotland, and Wales. 

"It also required the Secretary of State for Education to provide regular updates on how the Government are improving access to BSL.
"Here in the UK, around ten million people are deaf, have hearing loss, or tinnitus, and every May, Deaf Awareness Week promotes and shines a light on the challenges that the deaf community face on a daily basis, as well as raising awareness on how we can all support those with hearing loss. 
"The challenges faced could be mental health-related or feeling excluded from other people or services."
Sir Robert added: "I would like to thank the wonderful Hearing Support Team here in Swindon, as well as the dedicated Ear, Nose and Throat Department and Audiology Teams at Great Western Hospital.
"The Hearing Support Team work hard to support deaf children and young people from birth to the age of twenty-five, their families, and educational settings within the borough of Swindon. 
"This includes supporting children and young people with the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants, as well as offering support and advice on hearing effectively for learning for all schools and education settings.
"The wonderful team at the Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) Department at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust supports thousands of patients here in Swindon and beyond each year. 
"They work closely with other ENT departments in the region, as well as the excellent Audiology team, who also act as a teaching and training centre for undergraduate and post graduate audiology students from Great Western Hospital. The Audiology team now support me too, as I now have hearing aids."
Swindon Hearing Support Team have put together a list of tips, which might help support children and young people:
- Use simple gestures to communicate where possible
- Try not to cover your mouth – seeing lip patterns is important
- Face the person so your face is not in shadow /is not facing away when talking
- Reduce background noise
- Gain their attention
- Speak one at time (in a group it is hard to follow when you talk over each other)
- Learn British Sign Language
- Write it down to try use speech-to-text software such as Google Live Transcribe


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