Mansfield deaf comedian praises Lib Dems for new BSL policy but more needs to be done

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Mansfield’s deaf comedian has said more needs to done to lift daily barriers affecting the deaf community.

It might be the 20th century but John Smith has said deaf people are still living in the dark ages when it comes to communicating with the rest of the world.

Mr Smith has toured all over but has called support for the deaf community in the United Kingdom as shocking.

“We want equality just like everyone else, right now the deaf community are the most under represented equal rights group.

“For example gay people and people with disabilites all have laws in place to protect them.

“Although these may still not be perfect, the deaf community essentially has no rights by law,” He said.

A recent conference held by the Liberal Democrats in Glasgow did shed some light on the way forard however.

The party voted to pass the policy on ‘Recognising a Legal Status for British Sign Language’ (BSL) at its conference on 17th September.

For Mr Smith, and many others who use BSL, every day tasks become impossible because facilities are not in place to cater for them.

Mr Smith continued: “Making a simple phone call can seem impossible. I got really angry and frustrated myself the other day after I needed to phone the bank.

“I could not get through to anyone or explain I was deaf and when a third party tried to speak for me the bank refused because of security issues.”

Mr Smith became deaf after contracting Meningitus at three and a half.

He has since helped to lead the Spit the Dummy campaign and said now is the time to eliminate barriers facing deaf people once and for all.

“We are well into the 20th century now and yet it feels like we are still in the dark ages. It is not good enough,” He said.

The campaign now has 11,000 members and is growing every day.

BSL was recognised as a language in its own right in 2003 but in the past 10 years there has been little progress in granting it a legal status and protecting BSL users.