Derbyshire charity chief calls for British Sign Language to be part of national curriculum

Students using sign language.
Students using sign language.

A Derbyshire charity chief has called for British Sign Language (BSL) to be part of the national curriculum.

This week, MPs debated this online petition requesting that BSL is taught in schools.

Martin Thacker, regional director for the East Midlands of the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: "As the child of deaf adults, I was brought up with BSL as my first language.

"It is an expressive form of communication with an interesting history of language development.

"In my experience, people are fascinated by BSL.

"It is recognised as a language in its own right - so why can't it be included in the school curriculum in much the same way other languages are?"

The online petition calling for BSL to be part of the national curriculum was started by Wayne Barrow, a campaigner and TV presenter.

It has so far been signed by more than 30,000 people.

According to the British Deaf Association, there are an estimated 151,000 BSL users - 87,000 of whom are deaf.

Mr Thacker added: "There is a large deaf community in Derbyshire."

Sign language is a visual means of communicating using gestures, facial expression and body language.

It is used mainly by people who are deaf or have hearing impairments.

After a major campaign, BSL was finally recognised by the UK Government as an official minority language in 2003.