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March 19, 2003


From: The Mirror, UK - Mar 19, 2003

By Jon Clements

BRITISH Sign Language was formally recognised as a tongue in its own right by the Government yesterday.

The British Deaf Association warmly welcomed the symbolic move after campaigning for 20 years.

Chief executive Jeff McWhinney said: "This is a milestone for the deaf."

And Dr John Low, of the Royal National Institute for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People said: "Recognition aids our campaign for more interpreters - which will radically improve the lives of many deaf people."

Announcing £1million to help the study of BSL, Work and Pensions Secretary Andrew Smith, added: "It is important for society to understand it is a language."

BSL has evolved over centuries with its own syntax, grammar and formation of sentences - and regional variations.

Around 70,000 use it as their first language.

© The Mirror