It was during the 5th century BC when Socrates said that if someone doesn’t have a voice, then why not make use of their hands to be able to express what they wish to say.
Most people who use sign language either have a disability wherein they cannot hear and speak or they are either with someone who is deaf or mute like a friend, partner, or family member. What most people don’t know is that just because the sign language is English doesn’t mean that the person who learned it is using just one type of sign language.
Just because the spoken language is the same, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is intelligible, such as the American Sign Language compared to the British Sign Language.
People who are deaf prefer to use the British Sign Language in the United Kingdom of course, and in 2014, the estimated number of BSL users in the country are 77,000 and a quarter of a million uses it as their second language.
However, there have been a lot of people in the country who are petitioning for the British Sign Language to become a part of the national curriculum of the United Kingdom, this is after the success of the film “The Silent Child,” wherein it includes a deaf 6-year-girl named Maisie S.
The film was actually a major Academy Award winner, hence people want to make this happen. There were 32,500 people who signed the petition but then according to the education minister of Great Britain, they have no plans on changing the curriculum anytime soon.
"I am Daniel Jillings aged 12. I am Deaf and use British Sign Language as my first language. For me and other deaf children who use BSL, there is currently no GCSE in our own language, British Sign Language." Read more and support: https://t.co/mRNhfsCRVE
— CrowdJustice (@CrowdJustice) July 3, 2018
British Sign Language for GSCE Being Pursued
A few months after that, a 12-year-old boy Daniel Jillings, who is deaf decided to push his own campaign on including the British Sign Language to be a GSCE subject. The major reason is that he, as well as the other people who have the same disability as him, wasn’t given the permission to learn any foreign language.
This is because according to the current curriculum, anyone who wishes to study foreign languages must be able to take both the listening and the speaking test. That would technically mean that anyone who is deaf or mute can’t exactly take it.
The young boy then decided to set up a campaign page wherein he is encouraging people to support his request for the BSL to be added as a GSCE subject as soon as possible. The campaign page was put up so he could get some pledges in order to get enough money for the legal costs.
Jillings said that he will be taking his GSCE in just a few years, and along with a lot of children who is also not given a chance to hear and may only communicate with BSL. Which is why he is trying to pursue this dream, there are so many foreign language GSCE available right now, but being deaf stops their dream from learning it.
He admitted that it doesn’t seem fair that they cannot actually learn foreign languages just because they can’t hear. His family is now working with a lawyer that could push this case as discriminatory and unlawful for people who are disabled.
If you look into the 2010’s Equality Act as well as the Human Rights Act of 1998, anything that could be considered as discriminatory towards people who are disabled can actually be legal matter, and the fact that people who are using BSL as their first language, are not given the chance to study foreign languages is something that could definitely be fought for on the court. Technically, it is already an issue that is currently being reviewed by the government, but of course, the case is getting delayed.
According to experts, a huge percentage of children who can’t hear and are using BSL are underachievers, this is because they think that their way of learning and exploring have a limit because of their disability.
If the BSL becomes a part of the GSCE, it could definitely put a massive impact on them. They would realize that they could actually do more, especially when it comes to learning foreign languages, that things are possible even if the world doesn’t see them as normal.