Brent commits to giving Deaf community a voice

17 May 2018

During Deaf Awareness Week 14-20 May, Brent Council has pledged to consult with the local Deaf community formally and informally on a regular basis.

The first step will be to ensure that representatives of Brent's Deaf community become active members of Brent's Disability Forum and that their input is sought on relevant matters, including British Sign Language (BSL) accessibility. BSL interpreters are already provided for forum meetings.

A capital D is used for the Deaf community, for whom BSL is a first language. The British Deaf Association describe The Deaf community as "a vibrant society where Deaf people who use sign language are traditionally drawn together through sharing news, experiences, activities and sports events. This creates a sense of belonging".

Brent will also continue to explore further opportunities to consult with the Deaf community and to ultimately make information and services more accessible for residents who are Deaf, and also those who have hearing loss but may not use BSL.

The council already provides BSL interpreters for face-to-face meetings and offers "Sign Video BSL Live", a BSL interpreter video link, to improve access to customer services for BSL users.

BSL learning provision in the borough has also improved with "Brent Start" providing a level 1 BSL course in May, with further courses planned for September.

However, Brent appreciates that more can be done and consulting directly with Deaf community members through the disability forum is an important step in this journey.

Asif Iqbal, the Director of Harrow and Brent United Deaf Club, says "Harrow & Brent United Deaf Club looks forward to working closely with Brent Council to enable Deaf residents to have a voice on accessing council services. We urge the council to consult with our Deaf community and to explore how the BSL Charter can be achieved."

Councillor Margaret McLennan, Deputy Leader of Brent Council, added:

"Brent Council is strongly committed to providing inclusive and accessible services for all our residents, including our local deaf community. We make this pledge as recognition that direct engagement and consultation with our Deaf community will help improve our services and empower Deaf residents to make a more active contribution to local decision-making."