The Minister for Equality has today published a Bill that seeks to recognise British Sign Language as a language of Gibraltar.
The purpose of this 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 and all Government departments, Agencies, Authorities and other Statutory bodies who will be required to report to the Minister.
The Ministry for the Equality is already working on preparing guidance and will be working with all relevant departments to ensure that everyone understands that they are required to give effect to this legislation and how to do so properly ahead of the requirements becoming statutory so that everyone is properly prepared.
The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, said: "I am very grateful to Samantha Sacramento for her continued commitment to equality and her deep understanding that issues of equality are wider than most appreciate. In this regard, 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."
Minister for Equality, Samantha Sacramento MP, said: "Our Government has a track record of supporting the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Gibraltar and we were the first to introduce the use of British Sign Language at events. We 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. I am grateful for the work undertaken by GHITA in this regard and I must also credit and thank Mr Joe Brugada who has a longstanding relationship with the Ministry of Equality and has always advised us and greatly assisted us."