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22 MarDawn Butler MP raises question in Sign Language in Parliament

Dawn Butler MP calls for BSL Act

Labour MP Dawn Butler has been praised for using sign language to ask a question in the House of Commons about giving it legal status.

Ms Butler’s question will help to raise awareness about the lack of accessible information for Deaf people and encourage Parliament to consider the importance of a BSL Act.

The British Deaf Association said it was “delighted” Ms Butler had requested for Parliament to give the language legal status.

“We very much hope that the House will take note and consider Ms Butler’s early day motion as a priority to ensure that deaf people are part of the UK’s determination to be a leader in business and trade,” it said.

A House of Commons spokesman said “as far as records indicate” it is the first time sign language has been used to ask a question in the Chamber.

Dr Jan Sheldon, CEO of The Royal Association for Deaf people said that “Ms Butler’s question today should at the very least prick the conscience of our Government”.

RAD press release

BBC News Article


04 NovThe outcome of Common Purpose Conference

Press Release – 4 November 2016

Craig Crowley

Craig Crowley MBE, chief executive of Action Deafness, was appointed chair of the UK Council on Deafness at its AGM on 2 November. Craig succeeds Jim Edwards, who took up the position in 2010.

The AGM was part of the Council’s annual conference, which this year celebrated the power of collaboration. Groups of presenters explained how their cooperation had brought about benefits for people who are deaf or have a hearing loss.

Jim Edwards said: “I am delighted to announce Craig is the new chair of the Council. His appointment comes at an exciting time, with the sector working more collaboratively than ever before. His involvement with the initiative to define a common purpose means he is well placed to take up the reins.”

Craig said: “Jim’s six year stewardship of the Council is much appreciated. In particular, he made sure we kept challenging ourselves. The Board and I look forward to continuing what he worked so hard to begin.”


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Prevention and Early Intervention
Common Purpose

01 NovPrudential introduces service for deaf BSL users

Prudential has become the first retirement product provider in the UK to introduce a web-based video relay service (VRS) for customers who use British Sign Language (BSL).

A BSL version of this news release is available.

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22 AugVideo Relay Service

Today, Santander Consumer Finance (SCF), in partnership with SignVideo, has launched a Video Relay Service (VRS), for the British Sign Language (BSL) community.

The service is available for all account servicing, supporting customers with many of their day to day account queries and transactions. The service enables deaf BSL-using customers to place video calls to SCF via a free and secure video link on its website. The video call instantly connects to a BSL interpreter at SignVideo, who then phones the SCF contact centre relaying the conversation in real time.

Read the full Press Release

To view the list of Organisations/Companies offering VRS, please visit our website at



03 AugNew study casts light on synaesthesia among signed language users

Many synaesthetes experience colours when viewing letters or digits but a new research study involving academics from UCL, has for the first time, documented a similar phenomenon among users of signed languages.

Synaesthesia is a phenomenon in which perceptual experiences, such as colours, tastes, or smells are elicited by stimuli that are not usually associated with such experiences such as letters or sounds. For example, in the most common form of synaesthesia, known as ‘grapheme → colour synaesthesia’, letters or numbers are perceived as coloured. People who report a lifelong history of such experiences are known as ‘synaesthetes’ and it’s a condition that affects around 4% of the population.

While there has been a considerable amount of documented research into synaesthesia within reading, writing and speech, little is known as to whether the condition affects users of signed languages, and whether there is a transfer between written language and fingerspelling. However, a new study recently published in the journal, Neurocase, has for the first time documented an equivalent synaesthesia amongst signed language users, with colours induced by manual fingerspelled letters and number signs.

Researchers, Dr. Joanna Atkinson and Prof Bencie Woll, from the Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL), University College London, have collaborated with academics, Jamie Ward from the University of Sussex and David Eagleman of Baylor College of Medicine in Texas and presenter of BBC series ‘The Brain with David Eagleman’, to demonstrate that colour associations may also transfer from writing and fingerspelling systems but also this can occur within signed language based on perceptual similarity or articulatory features such as handshape.
Commenting on the publication, Dr Atkinson, said:

“The results from this collaborative project which has brought together world experts in synaesthesia with world experts in sign language research.

“Working with a mixed study cohort of hearing and signed language users – both of British Signed Language (BSL) and American Signed Language (ASL) – we discovered evidence that manual alphabet/numeral sign → colour synaesthesia exists within second-language users of two different signed languages, ASL and BSL.

“These findings fit with the notion that for most second-language learners, the transfer of colour into this system is primarily determined by conceptual meaning based on their first language but the colours can also be influenced by perceptual properties of the signs or fingerspelled letters themselves.

“This study also underlines the importance of broadening research to include signed languages because this casts new light on the mechanisms underpinning synaesthesia in general.”

The full article can be found here: