Archive photo of Samantha Sacramento, Gibraltar's Minister for Equality. / sur

Gibraltar plans to make British sign language an official language

The aim is to facilitate the provision of BSL throughout the public sector

DEBBIE BARTLETT Gibraltar

The Gibraltar government has just published a Bill that aims to recognise British Sign Language as a language of Gibraltar. The purpose of the Bill is to facilitate the provision of sign language throughout the public sector.

Compliance with the new law will be monitored by the Minister for Equality, Samantha Sacramento, and all Government departments, agencies, authorities and other statutory bodies. The Ministry is already working on preparing guidance to ensure that everyone understands that they are required to give effect to this legislation and how to do so properly before the Bill enters into law, so everyone is properly prepared.

Chief minister Fabian Picardo said: "The recent awareness day by GHITA was a helpful and important reminder to the whole of Gibraltar of the issues faced by our Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. It proved an important catalyst for further action which we are very proud to now progress. I am sure the whole community will embrace these changes positively".

The Gibraltar government has a good track record in supporting the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and was the first to introduce the use of British Sign Language at events. They have also provided BSL through digital technology for many years. Through this proposed new piece of legislation this will now be compulsory throughout the public sector and will make Gibraltar more inclusive for BSL users.