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Sign Language Now!

With BDA looking to gain an even keel, under the public glare, I noticed that they are still maintaining the same theme, carrying on from the last precedessor. It is in this pdf (page 6) where there is a “Welcome” column from the incoming Chairman, Francis Murphy.

The aim of this blog is to elicit further clarifications and draw out some deeper background knowledge from people who were involved with BSL Recognition campaign leading up to 2003 and for those who still are involved nowadays. But I will write about what I have discovered so far – I am not a trained researcher but I’d like to think “finding out information” is one of my strengths. Pardon me, in advance, if I get things wrong.

Soon after BSL was “recognised” by Department of Work and Pension (not the government itself I might add), it seemed that the push for BSL recognition continued on many fronts, including the EC Parliamentary Assembly which was a month after the DWP’s annoucement. I wonder if this is a deliberate act of sabotage by the Government to take the winds out of the sail of that assembly by being seen “doing something”.

Malcolm Bruce is certainly not giving up as he made a speech back in March – although he is weary that he is having to “reassert” the same issues he made 30 years ago but, boy, I do admire his resilience. I do not know how much support does he gets for his endeavours. Is he our best chance to gain a voice in the House of Commons? Where have all our movers and shakers have gone?

Moving onto another subject, it is my opinion that the battle-cry of “BSL Recognition now” does not invoke the same emotiveness if someone wear to holler “Welsh Language now” – simply because the wordings are vague in the former whereas, with the latter, the message is clear cut. If someone is confronted with BSL, someone can get the “WTF” moment as it can mean all sort of things – unless you are working in Deaf community/organisation/diversity circles. By adding ‘BSL’ in a seach engine, it will spews various results such as Birmingham Swim League to Breed-specific legislation (regarding pit bull dogs). Everybody hates abbreviations.

I feel the slogan containing “Sign Language now” is more effective in carrying the message, through the absolute message it is carrying and its clarity. Another wording which can also be bandied around “Legalise Sign Language”. It is my feeling this will increase the awareness of the campaign and capture the imagination more. People – from ordinary bystander to a celebrity – will be more curious and say “What do you mean by that?”…….this is where we come in: produce a leaflet / attempt to communicate / find the nearest terp. The importance should be on the message – making it accessible to a wide-ranging and emotive. “BSL Recognition” is not sexy enough.

Unfortunately, I will not be at the Southport Congress due to my parent’s 40 years wedding anniversary party.  I would appreciate any lowdowns on it – even perhaps someone could write a blog about the Congress?!? Any takers?!?

22 thoughts on “Sign Language Now!”

  1. Good questions Tony (btw like the new template / font).

    First port of call I would try and dismantle what happened leading up to 18 March 2003, and actually attempt to pull this apart. Also link this up with the roots of this campaign.

    If you do this, then some questions might be answered re motivation.

    There’s some external factors around this too, people who were carrying a lot of the activist work were no longer involved due to personal circumstances. Think about the key people who pulled BSL recognition together in former years, and what happened to them.

    Have a lot of my own thoughts here but they’ve never been documented.

    The problem is, history may repeat itself with that No 10 petition (even though kudos for trying). Communication and a common denominator is the key.

  2. Problem is – activities surroundings the run up to the 18/3/03 is not well documented – at least not online. Hard for someone to dissected and devise a new strategy. Whole thing is coming across as skewed to me as cannot make heads or tails of this.

  3. Problem is Tony its so huge, and you’re right. I actually pulled together a website on BSL recognition, it was 700-800 pages in Word. However, didn’t go any further with it …. just the time to commit to it, and then there’s the small matter of translating the entire thing.


    Perhaps start to break this down into smaller chunks.

  4. Just wondering – while i agree with learning from history…but as have been stated, it’s very hard to find information from the past or complicated such as that 700-800 pages document etc etc…

    How about this: Instead of researching into what was done into the past, but instead just start afresh. Make note of all the technologies we have today that could be used – for example Twitter for mass texting (great for marches for example) and various other things.

    For that 700-800 pages document – instead of Alison doing it all herself, put it up on a wiki and allow others to view and modify where needed?

    Yes without past experience it’ll be very hard to dissect and devise a new strategy, so we just ask the old folks to come on board. Yes lots have personal life etc, burnt out etc – so we try to keep it easy for them – ie they come onboard as advisors for example.

  5. That is an excellent idea – setting up a wiki. I’ve come across this wiki developer platform called DekiWiki from Mindtouch and another online wiki generator called It been a long time since I did any coding and there is this problem of finding the time to do anything with.

    Insofar, I am not seeing a surge of Deaf people taking advantage of new technologies, apart from Bebo and Facebook. Perhaps creating an API for these websites is the next best thing? Again, how many of us have the time or knowledge to do this?

    At least, the balling is rolling now…..

  6. Ahead of you already…

    There ya go…now it just need some contents…

    And talking of wiki’s…I’ll never forget that day Mr Rob Wilks decided a wiki was ideal to use as his own website…Alison and I had a merry time then abusing his trust 😉

  7. Nice one, JGJ – I think this would be a medium/long term project. I am not an expert in contributing towards a wiki so now is a good time than ever.

    Would be ideal to define which categories to have in place first….. I will give it a bash….

  8. What a fantastic idea this wiki is! I wonder where that came from? You see one good idea and then keep yourself up until one a.m. to copy it. That is sad.

    You know, things would get done much more efficiently if we work together. I’m not looking to steal anyone’s thunder, but if you add your content onto content which already exists, the mass and balance of it will sooner be of substance. You are very welcome to contribute to , and in the process help a lot of people, including me, to understand why history is so problematic to the creation of deaf organizations.

  9. Dale – I’ve had for ages and I’ve been putting up all sort of thing including various wiki’s as I like to play with different platforms in various directories. Some examples of projects:

    Events listing:

    or a collabartion project?

    or even a social site?

    I’ve done it much earlier than that, but became a forgotten project and was expired and then just reactivated when I remembered it and was bought up again here.

    Most of them are actually Alison’s idea which I then create.

    Grow up and stop thinking people are stealing your idea. There’s a deaf version of wikipedia out there even although seem to be dead but it’s no exactly an original idea.

    Your wiki is focused on just one thing – creating an ideal deaf charity. That’s it. People’ve said they’re not interested in it. Maybe if you just made it a very generic wiki, then yes you’ll get interests.

    I’m providing a wiki – it’s up to them not me whatever it’s gonna be. Thus can be anything – ie Deaf history, BSL recognisation etc etc. They are perfectly welcome to ignore as they wish.

  10. Dale – I actually asked Joe to install a wiki for me back in 2004, when I first discovered them. I’ve had frequent discussion with Joe over this, re usage of. (Was going to use on the BSL Recognition website etc).

    If you look at DUKT archives you will possibly find a wiki has been discussed. i.e. an information directory of sorts, but hesitated because we don’t think people will bother to fill in. Deaf UK Events @ Upcoming is a perfect example of this, re the spoon feed culture.

    Secondly, if you access the Tent City UK e mails (from last autumn) you will find Tomato and I were discussing wikis then. One of the major failings of using documents (via e mails) order went missing etc, thus had to address solutions. Thing we came down to was a wiki. At this time we also set up to address this.

    Ross Mayfield (Socialtext) has been in my RSS feed since 2004. Added him after getting a beta invite for Orkut in Feb 2004, from a hearing geek friend. Since Orkut was less than a month old at that time, the place was just populated by hardcore geeks.

    You certainly did not introduce me to wikis(!), and I know the same goes for Joe.

  11. Should add that I knew about Wikipedia before 2004, I’m talking about the benefits of collaboration via wikis, which Ross Mayfield kind of drip drip educated me over the past 3.5 years.

  12. Finally…in case you’re still unsure…just to reassure you…

    Sent 7th Jan 2007 about – deafwikipedia

    Predating that – Yoav attempted to setup a deaf-technology related wiki but it was pulled due to lack of interest/experienced people to post articles (plus it was too narrow a field – deaf technology) – way back in 2005

    So think again before calling me “sad” and basically copying you. It’s not new. You’re not exactly helping in getting support are you?

  13. Vain attempt at misdirection — this happened yesterday and you drag things up from months and years ago as if it has any relevance.

    It’s obvious what was uncontrollably going through your mind Wednesday evening through to the early hours of Thursday morning — everybody can see it –, and history doesn’t come into it.

    You are sad.

  14. ps. This imbecilic setup you have is putting the wrong time stamps on the posts – they are an hour early. You were actually working until beyond 2am on Thursday morning.

  15. @ Dale: I don’t appreciate your tone.

    I will look into this. Does anyone have any advice how to change the time as both machines I’m using are showing correct time. Could it be the server’s clock its going by and it is not set to Daylight Saving mechanism?

    However, it is up to Joe how he wish to use his time. As far as I am aware, he got a family and the wee hours are usually the best time to get something done. I know of other parents doing their domestic admin/pet project into the wee hours. I do it sometimes if the mind and flesh is willing.

  16. Joe actually went to bed before midnight last night, because he said goodnight to me on msn! 🙂

    Anyhow, what’s it with the name calling? You went to bed at x time? You are sad / copied me / fill in blank, instead of focusing on issues. Thought you said on GOD this week that you didn’t do petty comments, yet have to practice what you preach.

    For the record, Joe didn’t tell me about what he had done this week, but we’ve talked wiki (again) in the last couple of weeks. It got put on a backburner before that, *not* because of [fill in whatever assumption here], but we were focused on developing some other piece of software.

    Dale – if you’re going to be really pathetic about this, could easily pull out every single e mail I’ve had over a wiki in the past year and paste them here. It would be extremely anal.

    Are you seriously saying “I own the concept of a wiki”, and “noone else is allowed to use one”? Reminds me of the line of thought Savva comes up with, “I own Deaf mailing lists”. Really no different.

    I would suggest you go and read Lessig’s Free Culture, and the need to move away from blocking creativity, the need for a commons.

  17. Dale – the point is…the website was created months ago and not that night.

    Or are you just upset that you’ve had a lack of interest in that ideal deaf charity wiki? Guess what? So what? Yoav did that with deaf technology, it wasn’t used either. Likewise with – it wasn’t used much either.

    I honestly do not care about who came first – more power to you if you get loads of people editing away on your wiki – great.

    However because you have a wiki that’s just about deaf charity – that’s IT.

    What if someone want to put up history of deaf marches? That’s hardly a suitable content to put on your wiki. So here’s an alternative.

    But to make you happy – ok I’m sad. There, now can you move on? But you’re not exactly helping yourself in gaining support.

  18. @ Joe – I am sad that you are sad. 🙂

    @ Dale – despite this spat, don’t let it dampen your enthusiasm on this front. That trait is a rarity in the general climate of apathy, except us few, and it is great that someone bothered to set up a wiki.

    OK, let hit this on the head and move on.

  19. Tony, my enthusiam is unscathed.

    For your information, there are several problems with this web site. Apart from showing UTC time, the Comments RSS feed doesn’t work (doesn’t update), and the `archives’ and `about’ links at the top are broken. It might just be me and my browser, but yesterday I was seeing a huge delay in new posts coming up.

  20. Happy to hear that!

    Thanks for the feedback about my wonky blog. My learning curve with WordPress is exponential at the moment – the longer I spend time on it, the better I will get.

    Several of us are experiencing slow feeds’ input via our aggregators, too.

    Anyway, I am looking forward to the day when we have a comprehensive online resources covering all bases of the Deaf UK. I will endeavour to contribute where I can.

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