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'Formidable' sign language campaigners take cause to Westminster

PUBLISHED: 08:02 12 July 2019 | UPDATED: 08:02 12 July 2019

Waveney MP Peter Aldous speaks in the House of Commons about the Lowestoft Signing Choir and their campaign urging the government to bring forward a British Sign Language (BSL) GCSE. Picture: Parliament TV

Waveney MP Peter Aldous speaks in the House of Commons about the Lowestoft Signing Choir and their campaign urging the government to bring forward a British Sign Language (BSL) GCSE. Picture: Parliament TV

Parliament TV

A Suffolk MP has sung the praises of a choir in his constituency which is helping to drive forward a bid for a British Sign Language GCSE.

The Lowestoft Signing Choir performed in Portcullis House in Westminster on Wednesday to raise awareness of their cause.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday, Waveney MP Peter Aldous praised the choir's efforts.

He said: "Their members Anne and Daniel Jillings have been passionately campaigning for a GCSE in British Sign Language [BSL] and whilst preparatory work is underway will my right honourable friend work with the Department for Education and the minister who has been very supportive so as to ensure that this exam which shall transform so many people's lives is put on the curriculum as soon as practically possible?"

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Founded in 2003, the Lowestoft Signing Choir aims to raise awareness of deafness through performances of popular songs , hymns and carols in sign language.

Their performance at Westminster on Wednesday followed a long campaign by Daniel Jillings, from Lowestoft, to urge to Department for Education to implement a British Sign Language GCSE in time for him to sit his exams.

In response to Mr Aldous, schools minister Nick Gibb said the Jillings had been "formidable and influential" campaigners.

He said the government was committed to developing a BSL GCSE, but that the development of a new course was a "complex and lengthy process".

He added: "We are pushing this work forward as soon as we can while also ensuring that it can be completed to the highest standard."

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