North East Derbyshire District Council has shown its commitment to the deaf community, by becoming the first district council in the UK to sign up to the British Sign Language Charter.
The British Deaf Association's Charter for British Sign Language encourages organisations to meet a number of pledges and in doing so improve access to services, support equal opportunities and build good relations with the deaf community.
The charter was signed by North East Derbyshire District Council’s Leader, Councillor Martin Thacker MBE - who himself grew up in the deaf community with deaf parents and learned to sign at an early age.
It marks an historical moment for local government, as North East Derbyshire District Council is the first district council in the UK to sign up to the charter and is leading the way in improving access to services and equal opportunities for the deaf community.
Councillor Thacker, said: "This marks an historical moment for local government, as North East Derbyshire District Council is the first district council in the UK to sign up to the charter and is leading the way in improving access to services and equal opportunities for the deaf community.
“This is something very close to my heart as both my parents are profoundly deaf and we, as a council, are committed to doing all we can to support everyone who lives, works or visits our district.
"One in six people in the UK have some form of hearing loss and data shows this is more like one in five in our district. By signing this charter we have underlined our determination to further improve access to the services we offer to members of our deaf community."
Agnes Dyab, BDA Chair from the British Deaf Association, said: “Today BDA is celebrating the signing of the BSL Charter for the first District Council in the UK to take place, and in the same week as the International Week of the Deaf that incorporates the UN International Day of Sign Languages that took place on Monday.
“Every day Deaf and DeafBlind people face significant barriers in our lives to communicate in sign language, where often those who do not empathise with us, may not realise how much they are depriving us from access in the community and take for granted with their own language.
“I believe from this day forward, we can work together to take down the barriers so that we no longer have no sense of belonging in the wider community and are able to participate as equal citizens.”