Alliance MLAs welcome commitment to sign language legislation

Alliance MLAs Paula Bradshaw and Kellie Armstrong have welcomed a commitment from the Communities Minister to seek Executive approval for sign language legislation as a priority.

Paula Bradshaw Kellie Armstrong

South Belfast MLA Ms Bradshaw, who asked the question of the Minister at today's Assembly Question Time, stated: "People in the deaf community have waited 21 years now for legislation which, as the Minister himself noted, has long been on the statute book in the rest of the UK with provision also in the rest of Ireland.

“That they have waited this length of time demonstrates a poor choice of priorities over that time period.

"In fact, when my colleagues and I were working on language and identity legislation in 2017, we sought the inclusion of a Sign Language Act as part of the package at that time. That is what makes it even more frustrating we have faced continued delays in making this an urgent priority."

Alliance Communities spokesperson Ms Armstrong added: "As someone who has moderate hearing loss, one of my priorities at the party's spokesperson for Communities has been the progression of sign language legislation.

"I have long been insistent hearing loss should not be a barrier to pursuing any careers and activities we choose. I welcome the Minister's clear commitment and clarity of purpose today, but we will of course continue to push him for actions to make sure the legislation he has committed to becomes a reality for the benefit of the deaf and hard of hearing community across Northern Ireland."