Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper hopes Strictly star Rose's example helps get British Sign Language recognised as official UK language

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West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper is one step nearer having British Sign Language accepted as an official UK language.

Rosie is delighted that Strictly Come Dancing winner Rose Ayling-Ellis has recently put sign language centre stage - making her Bill reading all the more timely.

The MP, the daughter of profoundly deaf parents, grew up using sign language and the Parliamentary debate on her British Sign Language Bill will take place on January 28. She said she hopes it will mean deaf BSL users are "on a more equal playing field with everyone else".

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Rosie said: “It has been over six months since I introduced my British Sign Language Bill into Parliament and chose 28 January as the date for the debate. The timing couldn’t have been better! Rose Ayling-Ellis has brought this incredibly important issue into every living room via TV screens across the country while she conquered Strictly Come Dancing!"

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper grew up using sign languageWest Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper grew up using sign language
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper grew up using sign language

Ahead of the debate the MP has invited MPs to attend a drop-in event, which she is hosting in Parliament on January 19 with the support of the British Deaf Association, RNID (Royal National Institute for Deaf People) and other charities representing the deaf community.

The MP said: "I grew up with BSL as my first language, so to see it being used every weekend on Strictly is phenomenal. So many people are signing up to learn BSL and have a much clearer understanding of what BSL is and why it essential that we recognise it as an official language. There are around 90,000 deaf people in the UK that rely on BSL, yet they have to fight every day to be heard or listened to. My Bill aims to help put deaf BSL users on a more equal playing field with everyone else, to require the Government to work with deaf people to develop guidance on how public bodies should enable the use of BSL across their services."

She added: “I hope as many MPs as possible are able to come to the drop-in event in Parliament on 19 January, so we can get cross party support for the Bill at the debate.”

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Rosie's Bill seeks to declare British Sign Language as an official language of the UK and to ensure improved guidance is issued by the Secretary of State to public services and Government departments. The second reading of the Bill, which is the first time MPs get the chance to debate it, is January 28, and if it passes this stage it will go to a committee stage and third reading later in the year.

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