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4 May 2004 - BSL recognition in practice – £1.5 million for tutors and awareness-raising

British Sign Language, recognised last year as a language in its own right, today received a further boost as Maria Eagle announced the ten organisations to which the Government intends to award £1.5million funding.

Speaking during National Deaf Awareness Week, the Minister for Disabled People said:

“Recognition by the Government of BSL as a language in its own right was an historic step, but it was not the end. Now we can start putting in place a programme of work to support the new position.

“BSL is the first or preferred language of an estimated 70,000 Deaf people. I am confident that the projects we intend to fund will leave a legacy of improved access to learning for BSL tutors and increased awareness of the language.

“The quality of the proposals we received was so high that we have raised the original allocation of £1million by a further half million. In addition to providing training for BSL tutors, the projects we intend to fund include real innovation. On-line training materials, a family sign language curriculum and an interactive awareness-raising DVD, for example, will all increase opportunities for people to access the language.

“I am grateful to all of the organisations which competed in the tendering exercise and look forward to visiting some of the successful projects once they are under way.”

The Department for Work and Pensions intends to award contracts, subject to final negotiations, to:

Notes for editors

  1. Andrew Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, made a statement in the House of Commons on 18 March 2003 setting out the Government’s position on British Sign Language (BSL). It recognised British Sign Language as a language in its own right and said that the Government would be funding a discrete programme of initiatives to support the statement.
  2. A BSL working group was established which advised on priorities for allocating the additional funding and DWP tendered for bids for work which would either
    • contribute to establishing a GB wide framework to support the recruitment, training and deployment of BSL tutors which will enhance their numbers, status and levels of qualification; or
    • promote access for BSL users through awareness raising amongst employers, amongst service providers and in the wider community.
  3. The tendering process has now concluded and contract negotiations with the ten successful organisations are under way.

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