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Young people want sign language lessons at school

Published Date: 15 May 2017

An overwhelming 97% of young people think British Sign Language (BSL) should be taught in schools, according to our new Right to Sign report published to mark the start of Deaf Awareness Week today.

We surveyed more than 2,000 deaf and hearing people aged 8-25 across the UK, after our Youth Advisory Board said lack of access to BSL was a key concern. The language is not taught in most schools and private lessons are expensive.

Findings highlight significant interest in BSL among young people, with 91% keen to study it and 92% calling for it to be offered as a GCSE (or National 4/5 in Scotland). They also suggest this is not only a deaf issue; hearing respondents actually showed more interest in learning BSL than deaf respondents.

In light of this research, we've launched a Right to Sign campaign, calling for BSL to be included on the national curriculum so all schools can give students the opportunity to learn it.

Susan Daniels OBE, Chief Executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “Everyone in the UK, deaf or hearing, should have the opportunity to learn BSL – but most people miss out as it’s rarely taught in schools and private lessons are expensive.

“If we are to break down barriers to learning BSL, it must be included on the national curriculum. This survey shows that children and young people really want to learn BSL, so we urge the Department for Education to respond to this demand.”

British actress and BSL user Rachel Shenton, best known for starring roles in Switched at Birth and Hollyoaks, has already declared her support for the campaign.

Rachel commented: “The government recognised BSL as a language in its own right 14 years ago, so to me it seems crazy that we don't learn it in schools. I feel passionately that everyone should have the opportunity to learn BSL.”

Youth Advisory Board member Erin, 17, added: “BSL is one of the languages of the UK so it’s important that, as well as knowing other languages to communicate with people across seas, we can communicate with people in our own country.”

To find out more and support the campaign, visit the Buzz website.