Government releases video supporting British Sign Language Bill - with one 'embarrassing' mistake

Government releases video supporting British Sign Language Bill - with one 'embarrassing' mistake
DWP shares incorrect American Sign Language video in support of British Sign ...

If you’re a government department looking to throw your support behind a parliamentary bill, then it’s probably worth knowing exactly what it is you’re talking about before releasing a video on the matter.

Unfortunately for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), a clip posted to their Twitter account on Friday has been criticised by the Deaf community, after it expressed support for a British Sign Language (BSL) Bill with stock footage displaying American Sign Language (ASL).

Much like spoken languages, sign languages differ by country, and come with their own grammar and syntax. While BSL uses two hands to sign the alphabet, for example, ASL only uses one.

In the video, Chloe Smith MP, the minister for disabled people, said: “The Bill recognises BSL as a language in its own right, and will see guidance issued to departments across the Government on the promotion and facilitation of BSL.”

The Bill, introduced by Labour MP Rosie Cooper, was passed unanimously this week when it received its second reading in the Commons.

The DWP’s footage then cut away from the minister to show a woman signing to nine people on a video call, as Ms Smith said the Deaf community “deserve to be heard” like everyone else.

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However, Indy100 understands the woman was communicating in a completely different language to the one described by the minister, with the individual appearing to sign the words ‘nice’, ‘happy’ and ‘meet’ in ASL.

The video has since faced criticism from the Deaf community, who have slammed the government’s apparent lack of awareness:

Responding to Indy100's request for comment, a DWP spokesperson did not address the error and instead said: “Yesterday saw a significant step towards real equality for those who rely on British Sign Language to communicate and passing the Bill will see Government commit to a more inclusive and accessible society.”

However, Indy100 understands the department can include stock footage in their content for creative and illustrative purposes.

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