British Deaf Association

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British Deaf Association (BDA) is a deaf-led British charity that campaigns and advocates for deaf people who use British Sign Language.

It was originally formed in 1890 by Francis Maginn, who was deaf himself. He created the original organisation in 1890 after the 1880 Milan Congress on the Education of the Deaf excluded deaf people - deciding the only method of teaching in schools was to be the oralist method, with sign language not taught.

In 1889 a royal commission report supported the establishment of the Pure Oral System, leading to the establishment of the BDA by deaf people to campaign against the banning of their own language. It took until the 1970s before schools began to look again at accepting sign language.

The advent of sign language and its acceptance by the general public resulted in deaf leaders slowly coming back to the forefront starting with Jock Young as the first Deaf Chair in 1983 and subsequently it was in the mid-1990s before it had its first Deaf Chief Executive, Jeff McWhinney.

In the 1990s the BDA became a deaf-led organisation and the campaigning for the recognition of sign language is to date the main focus of their work.[1] Current Chair is Terry Riley, recently retired as the Editor of BBC's See Hear! programme.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History of Deaf organisations". Retrieved 2009-01-15. 

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