Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/165/7861

From The Socialist newspaper, 7 July 2000

Tackling Deaf People's Oppression

THE YEAR 2001 will be the European Union's European Year of Language, but how will it be marked by the British government in respect of the UK's fourth indigenous language, the language of the Deaf community, British Sign Language (BSL)?

Anne Darby, Nottingham

The government recognised Welsh as an official language of the UK in 1993 and last year recognised the Gaelic and Irish languages.

The Federation of Deaf People (FDP) was formed two years ago. It has acted as a focus for young radical Deaf people who are bilingual and have a strong sense of their Deaf identity to come together, develop political understanding and work together to fight against their own oppression and the oppression of current and future generations of deaf children.

Last year the FDP organised the first-ever petition and march through London for the recognition of BSL. After handing in the 32,000-plus petition at Downing Street, 4,000 deaf people and their allies congregated in Trafalgar Square. It was an empowering experience. This year marches were held in May in Derby and Nottingham, Birmingham in June. London's march is taking place this Saturday 8 July.

The language of the deaf community has always been controversial, mainly because of the debates about the need of deaf children to use it to give full access to education. Roughly there are two camps. Deaf people argue that children need access to BSL while the hearing education system argue they need exclusive access to speech.

The attitudes to BSL have all the hallmarks of colonialism. BSL has been denigrated as a poor substitute for "proper language".

In 1975, BSL was identified as a language in its own right by British university researchers, the development of video technology allowed for research and documentation of the language.

The declaration of BSL as a full language, together with the documentation of the failure of the education system, gave heart to the Deaf community. Deaf people began to take more power through the British Deaf Association (BDA) and radical deaf rights groups and began to press the government to recognise BSL as a language.

The then Tory government was resistant, they denied funds for research into BSL and into the education of deaf children. John Major wrote to a deaf woman saying that the government would never recognise BSL as an official UK language. This was despite the European Parliament calling in 1989 on member states to recognise their indigenous languages and more recently to sign the Council of Europe's charter for regional or minority languages.

The Labour government wants to present itself as more open to the views of the deaf community but in practice has changed very little. Margaret Hodge, the current Minister for Disabled People recently insulted the deaf community and attacked the academic standing of professional linguists by claiming that BSL's status as a language was debatable.

The chief executive of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, an organisation close to the Labour government, recently told a deaf woman that the government will not recognise BSL. When challenged, he told her that his remarks had not been fully interpreted, that he in fact said: "The government will not recognise sign language next week".

But if the lobbying campaign is seen to have no effect, more activists will consider non-violent direct action.

Operations on deaf babies to insert cochlear implants in the hope of "defeating deafness" and providing a cure through brain surgery and genetic manipulation are threats to the Deaf community. They send a message that we are so "imperfect" and our presence is so undesirable that we must be manipulated out of society.

The FDP aims to promote an acceptance that diversity includes deafness and eradicate such backward attitudes.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 7 July 2000:

Labour's Poverty Scandal

DETR staff fight performance pay: Dump Divide and Rule

Successful launch for Cuba book

Tackling Deaf People's Oppression

Copeland - questions that need answers

"Folleted"

Your Genes in capitalism's hands

Isreal: Yedioth newspaper lockout


 

Home   |   The Socialist 7 July 2000   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Deaf:

triangleHilarious, innovative satire on state bureaucracy

triangleHalt the cutbacks in hearing aid provision

triangleNottingham council targets the vulnerable

Education:

triangleStriking back against the sackers' charter at Leeds University

triangleSchools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangleUniversity of Leeds workers walk out

Children:

triangleDon't wreck our rec! Campaigning to save green space in Standish

triangleShocking insight into Isis

triangleOne in four teenage girls depressed - crisis made worse by cuts

Disabled:

triangleChatsworth ward campaign replies to Tory MP's intervention

triangleUN slams Tories for disabled rights ruin

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

18/10/17

Art

'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future

18/10/17

Democratic rights

Conference on state spies and sabotage: who's watching who?

18/10/17

Council

Sheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

18/10/17

South West Wales

Hundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

18/10/17

NHS

Uprising to save the NHS!

18/10/17

Socialism

Can you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

18/10/17

East London

No cuts - hands off King George A&E!

18/10/17

North London

North London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

18/10/17

Leeds

Striking back against the sackers' charter at Leeds University

18/10/17

BAE

Nationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems

18/10/17

Royal Mail

Workers' anger increases after Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

18/10/17

Schools

Schools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now

18/10/17

PCS

PCS ballots members to send message to government: scrap the pay cap

18/10/17

Swansea

Socialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

18/10/17

Local government

Unite local government sector plans strike ballot

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

triangle11 Oct Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

triangle6 Oct Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangle4 Oct The nasty party turns on itself... but the Tories must be driven out

More ...

triangle18 Oct Warrington & St Helens Socialist Party: 1917-2017; the October Russian Revolution

triangle18 Oct Hackney Socialist Party: 100 years ago - the Bolshevik-led revolution

triangle18 Oct Tower Hamlets Socialist Party: Capitalism in Crisis - is Corbyn the answer?

triangle19 Oct Waltham Forest Young Socialists: Deaths in police custody

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2