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Sign Language Week celebrated in city at special event in City Hall today

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Date: 16 Mar 2023

Lord Mayor Tina Black signs with Sabina Iqbal, BDA Trustee

Protecting BSL (British Sign Language) and ISL (Irish Sign Language) was the focus of an event in City Hall today to mark Sign Language Week.

Protecting BSL (British Sign Language) and ISL (Irish Sign Language) was the focus of an event in City Hall today to mark Sign Language Week.

Sign Language Week runs from 13 to 19 March 2023 and the event was organised by Belfast City Council in partnership with the British Deaf Association (BDA).

Lord Mayor, Councillor Tina Black, opened the event joined by members of the local Deaf community and local organisations working to support BSL and ISL users in the city.

Topics covered looked at the importance of ISL and BSL on healthcare access for the Deaf community and supporting equality and better communication.

A number of council staff were also in attendance and were presented with certificates for completing sign language courses during the year.

Lord Mayor Tina Black said “I’m delighted to be at this special event in City Hall today to mark and celebrate Sign Language Week.

“This year’s theme is ‘Protecting BSL & ISL’ and we, as a Council, are committed to making the city as accessible as possible to all our Sign Language residents and visitors.  This is a vital part of our plan towards Belfast becoming an inclusive and accessible city, as set out in our Belfast Agenda. We signed up to the BSL and ISL Charter in March 2019 and this remains a commitment today.

“We also have a Language Strategy and Disability Strategy Action Plan which embeds our commitment to breaking down language and communication barriers.”

Belfast City Council was the first Northern Ireland council to sign up to the British Deaf Association’s Sign Language Charter committing to promote better access to public services for Deaf people. The Sign Language Users Forum was set up, as a result, in 2019.

Rebecca Mansell, Chief Executive of the British Deaf Association, said: “It is our mission as guardians of BSL and ISL in Northern Ireland to protect and preserve our language.

“It is our ambition to build upon the recognition of our two languages here and get more people across the country learning BSL and ISL and becoming allies of the Deaf community, who can support us as we work to protect, preserve and promote our beautiful, unique, visual languages for future generations to come.”

More information on Sign Language Week is available at

Further details of the council’s Language Strategy are at

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