To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment she has made of the equality of access available for deaf people whose first language is British Sign Language in terms of communicating with (a) cultural, media, sporting and business organisations and (b) the agencies and public bodies for which she is responsible; and if she will make a statement.
We recognise the importance of removing the barriers deaf people face in accessing services. The Equality Act 2010 provides the protection which ensures disabled people can access goods, facilities and services, by requiring those with duties under the Act, including Government Departments, to make a reasonable adjustment so that their services and functions are accessible. For example, installing perimeter loops in museum galleries.
We also recognise that technology has a vital role to play in assisting disabled people to access information, advice and services especially as public services increasingly go online. That is why DCMS is encouraging organisations to explore how they can meet the needs of BSL customers, through developing a mix of accessible contact strategies for their disabled and older customers via e-mail, SMS, instant messenger, text relay and Video Relay Services (VRS). This will assist many people who are deaf and hearing impaired.
More generally, the cross-Government strategy ‘Fulfilling Potential' aims to make sure that all people, whatever their impairment, have the opportunity to receive a good education, obtain employment, access services and live as fully engaged members of a modern society in every aspect of day to day life.