A week of pride for the local Deaf Community
British Sign Language (BSL) Week takes place from 12 to 18th March 2018. We catch up with Abigail Gorman to find out more about how BSL, Silent Child, International Day of Sign Languages, and WFD Fighting Fund are all connected.
- Tell us more about yourself
Hi, I’m Abigail. I’m currently studying BSc Social Sciences at university, and I’ve just been elected to the board of trustees for the British Deaf Association. I’m deaf, and a proud sign language user.
- What is BSL Week?
To coincide with the anniversary of BSL recognition day on 18th March, the British Deaf Association holds a nationwide Sign Language Week to celebrate sign language. However, BSL is not protected by law, so we also use it as an opportunity to raise awareness about how it’s important to us.
- What does BSL Week mean to you?
It’s a week of pride – a chance for us to proudly show off our language and culture to everyone. It’s also a great opportunity to meet and network
- What does BSL representation in the media do for the Deaf Community?
When you have representation in the media, it gives you a sense of value and belonging. It means you will be able to believe in yourself and your accomplishments. It also means that deafness is being exposed and therefore, in turn, will educate the hearing audience.
- What does the representation of a deaf person/BSL signing person in the Silent Child mean to you and the larger Deaf Community?
There are two reasons I am happy about a Deaf child featuring in Silent Child film. Firstly, it highlights the fact that sign language is vital to a Deaf person’s wellbeing. With sign language, the world opens up. If you deny a person access to sign language, you are isolating them. Secondly, it shows the world that we also have talented actors. I see a bright future for Maisie. It is also worldwide exposure to sign language and deaf community and will also strengthen the campaign for sign language to be used in schools. Seeing deaf people on TV empowers us.
- How do you personally celebrate BSL Week in different aspects of your life i.e at the workplace, in school?
I celebrate BSL Week every day! I am proud of my language, culture and history and every opportunity I get, I will educate people about sign language and Deaf culture.
- How do you think BSL Week is instrumental in the advocacy to introduce BSL in the National curriculum?
BSL Week shows people how important our language is, and how it’s a big part of our identity. It is a great way of raising awareness and opening doors for deaf people in all areas of life.
- How do you think the UN International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL) is an important tool in pushing for your local and national government to recognise your national sign languages?
It is an absolutely vital tool! It raises awareness, exposes the benefits of sign language and educates the hearing audience about the importance of celebrating and preserving sign language. It is also a crucial tool to get sign language legally recognised.
- How does recognition of sign language ensure that deaf people are no longer abused, ignored, silenced and excluded as portrayed in the WFD Fighting Fund?
With access to sign language, people will be able to receive education in a format that is accessible to them. With better education, they are able to speak up for themselves, and be empowered.
- What would be your advocacy advise to readers who want to fight for their country to recognise their national sign language(s)?
Be proud of your heritage, language and culture. Make sure you use sign language where possible as it increases visibility. Make sure to connect with your local political groups or activists to get them on board too! Invite them to meetings or speeches. You can tell them what you want, but it’s more effective if you show them why it’s important to you. They’ll be able to empathise more if they’re part of the discussion.
For more information about BSL Week, visit the official page here.