British Deaf Association issues follow-up statement after Makaton Charity claims BSL is a ‘communications tool’


The British Deaf Association (BDA) has issued an additional statement following concerns from the Makaton Charity which had branded British Sign Language (BSL) a “communication tool” and not a language.

The two organizations posted comments last night in response to the controversy over a video shared by musician Olly Murs, in which he signed the lyrics to his new single to Makaton for his ‘fans in the deaf community’.

While Makaton is a language program used to support people with learning and communication difficulties, BSL is a legally recognized language used by the majority of deaf people in the UK.

In a statement addressing the Walls video, Chief Executive Stephen Hall said: “As a communications charity, The Makaton Charity encourages all hearing people to be more aware of the needs of others and would, when individuals wish to communicate with the deaf community. , encourage them to learn and use British Sign Language, which is the recognized appropriate communication tool for this community. »

However, after comments from the two charities were shared by the BDA on their social media accounts, users called on the deaf charity to respond to Mr Hall’s remarks that BSL was a ‘communication tool’ .

On Wednesday, a second statement was released by the BDA which conceded that while the organization “does not fully agree with all of the points they raised”, they felt it was “important to ‘include their response’.

They said: “We have been working with The Makaton Charity since our joint See Hear interview last summer. We wanted to include their response to show the differences in our current positions.

“There is still work to be done to improve and clarify messaging from both organizations, to ensure that the public clearly understands the differences between Makaton as a communication system for people with learning disabilities and sign language. British, – our language – which has been recognized by the Government and Parliament in law and is used by 90,000 people across the UK.

“It is crucial that we continue to work with The Makaton Charity to help them improve and clarify their messages. This work is still in progress. »

The charity added that it will “continue to engage” with The Makaton Charity and hopes they can “count on the support of the deaf community and hearing allies” so that they “continue to protect, promote and preserve British Sign Language for future generations”. .

They also said they would not tolerate any abuse of the BDA, The Makaton Charity, Murs or Isabella Signs, the teenager the musician cited as having taught him how to sign.

“Any comments of an abusive nature will be removed from our social media channels,” they said.

Photo: British Association of the Deaf.

By Liam O’Dell. Liam is an award-winning deaf freelance journalist and campaigner from Bedfordshire. He can be found talking about disability, drama, politics and more on Twitter and on its website.


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