Derry and Strabane Council signs up to British/Irish Sign Language Charter

Derry City and Strabane District Council have signed up to a British/Irish Sign Language Charter that shows Council’s commitment to improving how it engages with and delivers it services to its deaf community.

By Gillian Anderson
Monday, 20th December 2021, 12:03 pm

Mayor, Alderman Graham Warke, and Council Chief Executive John Kelpie formally signed the charter which sets out a number of key pledges to improve access and rights for deaf people who use sign language.

Each pledge requires a commitment to overcome the disadvantages that those who use British or Irish Sign Language face.

Council has agreed to sign up to two pledges - to consult formally and informally with the local deaf community on a regular basis and to ensure access for deaf people to information and services.

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Mayor Warke welcomed the move which he hoped will allow Council to better meet the needs of the deaf community in the Council area.

He said: “I am proud to sign the British/Irish Sign Language Charter which will move us a step closer to deaf people within our community having equal access to Council information and services.

“The charter will see us engage more closely with the deaf community to better meet their needs and increase awareness of their issues and any barriers they may experience in accessing information or services.”

The signing of the charter follows a motion that was unanimously backed by elected members last year where they committed to signing the charter and exploring the options which best meet their needs in accessing up to date information on Council business.

Joint signatory John Kelpie added: “The signing of this Charter symbolises our clear commitment and determination to ensure our deaf community are part of our decision-making processes and our information and services are accessible to them.”

According to Action on Hearing Loss there are 24,000 people across the UK who use sign language as their main language.

The Department for Communities in Northern Ireland suggests that there are 5000 sign language users, of whom 3500 use BSL and 1500 use Irish Sign Language.