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Petition Re-Opened for the Inclusion of British Sign Language as LFA option


Many students are hopeful that the re-opening of a petition to include British Sign Language as a ‘Languages For All’ option will be successful.


New Academic Officer Thomas Ron has re-opened a petition to include British Sign Language as part of the university’s Languages For All scheme. Pre-existing LFA options include ‘dead languages’ such as Medieval and Classical Latin, however the university is yet to recognise British Sign Language as a current and vital form of communication. The petition was first opened in April 2014 by Naomi Barrow, who initially started the petition to develop skills that she had learnt at school. She said,

“It seemed strange to me that BSL wasn’t offered as an LFA when, currently, around 50,000 people in the UK use sign language as their first or preferred language. The university should be seeking to promote acceptance and inclusivity in all areas of life and I feel that having BSL as an LFA would help students to communicate better with those who experience hearing loss. Since the petition started, we have seen a huge amount of support which goes to show that this is something that many students want. Hopefully we will be able to make it happen in the not-too-distant future!”

Since the re-opening, the university has stated that it will support the inclusion of British Sign Language if a ‘business case’ can be made, although Ron remains hopeful that student opinion will persuade the university that the addition would be worth-while. He said,

“This campaign highlights the fact that Sign Language is a real and important part of our lives. I am very happy the university is helping with it and hopefully we can see it being given the status it deserves.”

College representatives are also pushing the petition. Becca Arnaud, Welfare Officer for James College, believes that the LFA scheme should aim to cater for all students.

“British Sign Language is an option that many people are already behind, with the university wanting to see enough student support. The work that the Disabled Students Network and in particular Naomi Barrow have done so far towards this is commendable and astounding. It is so important that students that do want BSL as an option have that chance.”

If you would like to sign the petition, visit https://www.change.org/p/university-of-york-provide-lfa-classes-in-british-sign-language.