A BSL act for Wales ? ATR is unsure a singular BSL act is the correct way ahead for all deaf people.
We agree BSL users have rights as deaf people, but so does everyone else who is deaf, and we must include those with other degrees of hearing loss, to avoid a 'tiered' Law being used that gives rights of communication to one area but not to another.
The biggest issue facing Sign language access and laws were the reluctance of any other hearing loss area wanting to support it, without a proper Act being enabled that doesn't simply apply equality via one means of communication used, and real consultation with all deaf areas takes place. An MP for Derby who attended a BSL lobby in Westminster 2 years ago said "I was the only person there asking if other deaf would be included, I was very concerned my HI constituent needs were just being completely ignored, not even there being represented. I was left with the decision I could not support the BSL Act as it stood..."
There are records in England and in Scotland regarding BSL Acts being implemented, in that concerns were raised by non-signing deaf and HI they were blatantly ignored, even BSL lobbyists insisting it is about signing deaf and culture no-one else... and was not suggesting they were ignoring the inclusive aspect of support, or, that consultations on equality for those deaf and with hearing loss were being ignored, but they could not demonstrate they had consulted anyone else. It was suggested 'If HI want access they must fight for themselves..' which was not viewed helpful and certainly not inclusive.
We still see that consultation takes place within deaf clubs, not outside them, who did not throw the debate on rights, inclusion, and access open to others with hearing loss to put their view. There was no visible desire to offer a united approach to access.
The other concerns re a BSL Act were more on a practical and realistic level. Simply speaking, the infrastructure to offer signed education and support, doesn't exist to the degree an Act would be viable. The professionals would have to be trained up first. Deaf schools are barely viable now. As we also read, take up of vocational Interpreting is going DOWNWARD not up. At this time January 2017, we cannot support the present BSL population.
What we most fear is a random system of deaf support/Education, centered around bigger populations of deaf people concentrated in cities, to the detriment of those deaf outside it, even their own BSL-using deaf. It also would be legally challenged via parental rights, as it doesn't take into account individual ability or choices. It would still not offer support to non-signing deaf, or their deaf children. We cannot support deaf in health e.g. and they are desperately trying to offer deaf remote interpreting instead against the deaf desire for that.
There is a distinct lack of real consultation on access with all with hearing loss, indeed it is currently, Culture versus inclusion in action.