Our recent research into dying and threatened languages (2014) has shown that BSL is severely endangered. Our paper was presented at the University of Koblenz-Landau in Germany at the Laud international linguists’ conference in 2014. The paper is called : “Towards language planning for sign languages: Measuring endangerment and the treatment of British Sign Language”, and is published in “Endangered Languages and Languages in Danger: Issues of documentation, policy and language rights”, edited by Luna Filipović and Martin Pütz. John Benjamins Publishing Co.
Link to paper here.
We looked at spoken languages which are dying or under threat and research (J.Fishman et al) which measures how much in danger spoken languages are. The most important way of making sure a language can survive, is for intergenerational transmission: parents and families must be able to hand on the language from one generation to the next. Sign languages are not transmitted naturally, except for approximately 5 % of deaf children who have deaf parents. A survey held by the Consortium of Research in Deaf Education (CRIDE) found that only approximately 9% of the 50,000 deaf children in the UK learn BSL, which is about 4,000 deaf children. This means that BSL is severely endangered and that legislation has to be passed to make sure sign languages are taught in schools to as many deaf children as possible.
In order to promote our different research projects DEX has lobbied the government (see Time Lines page).
DEX is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness (APPGD) which is a group of parliamentarians from the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The group has prioritised its work and one of its priorities is to hold an Inquiry into the cost implications of BSL recognition. DEX is a member of a subgroup that was set up to support this Inquiry’s establishment, including looking for funding to support it.