We, the Deaf Community, welcome the annual calendar-led promotion of Disability History Month. We are aware of the huge efforts to make DHM happen. This year, 2011, will kick-start a rapid progress in its national status, especially in schools.
We have been empowered to regard ourselves, the Deaf Community, as a linguistic minority thanks to our involvement within Disability Equality rights during the last two decades. This culminated in the Department of Works & Pensions' formal recognition of British Sign Language in March 2008. That was only the beginning, and we look forward to a national law to secure BSL + Deaf Values in everyday life, services and human rights.
We have made real progress within the broadcast Media through BSLBT - British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust, Deaf-led organisations like the British Deaf Association, Deaf Parenting UK, BSL training centres, huge events like Deaf Sportsmen of the Year (DeafSPY) and Deaf Rave happening in the UK!
We know that like many strands of Equality, there is still a journey to travel through before society achieves a level of inclusion which offers safe, active and accessible participation as citizens. Deaf professionals are surviving challenges due to peer resilience, especially in the public services.
We are grateful for technological progress which has lessened 'phone' marginalisation for us Deaf people to use telecommunications, but there are still barriers limiting the possible capacity for a 24/7 video relay service in BSL.
We share with you at the DHM Launch the on-going determined march towards breaking down barriers and reducing struggles, changing attitudes, radically changing perceptions and promoting ourselves as real gifted people in society.
We will see Deaf History aligning with DHM in 2012 onwards.
Like all other strands of equality and disabilities, we want to see good practice and acceptance of our Deaf & BSL values permanently embedded in law, in order that we could get on with in our lives as 'normal' people - as citizens, workers, carers, parents, individuals...the list is endless.
Thank you. Hands up in applause!