A DEAF teacher is calling for Parliament to recognise British Sign Language as a minority language before Brexit.

Although deaf people who use BSL as a means of communication are entitled to an interpreter under disability and equality laws, there is no requirement for that person to be a registered qualified interpreter.

Ayesha Gavin, who runs her own business Ayesha Communications from Weir, said: “This means that a person who has Level 2 BSL can be used as an interpreter.

“Imagine if you were English in a foreign hospital and you were assigned someone who only had a GCSE in your native language, would they be deemed competent enough to translate for a patient?

“I have just finished teaching nine students to NVQ Level 6 in BSL, that is the equivalent of a degree. As part of their studies the students had to look at deaf issues with Brexit being one.

“The European Parliament asked each member state to recognise their country’s sign language, Britain has not done so but Scotland did in 2015.

“In the UK there are 150,000 people who use British Sign Language, around a similar amount use Welsh Gaelic, that is accepted as a minority language but BSL isn’t.”

Ayesha, 40, was born unable to hear but was only diagnosed at the age of four, however she has always been able to speak.

She said: “If BSL was accepted as a language then they would need to be investment as there are only 890 registered qualified interpreters across the country and none in the Isle of Man.”

At Rossendale Business Awards, Ayesha was a highly commended in the Customer Friendly Business category and won the Service Business award.

MC Pete Sweetmore asked the audience to shake their hands in the air, BSL for applause, as Ayesha and freelance deaf teacher Kate Tinston came to the stage.

Mother-of-two Ayesha said: “We also had an interpreter with us and so when they announced that I had won I was not aware until she signed it. When I looked out at the audience everyone had their hands in the air and they were shaking. It was lovely.

“All of my Level 6 students, from as far away as Blackpool, Bury and Hebden Bridge achieved 100 per cent in their finals. Teaching the Level 6 was something that I have always wanted to do for a long time.

“I was teaching one full day every two weeks, there were times when it was really stressful but the first time doing anything is always hard, however I have gained a lot of confidence to go forward.”

The business has now taken on two more freelance deaf teachers and Ayesha’s husband Mark, who also completed his Level 6, is now working as her personal communication assistant.

Mark has spent 20 years working in further education as an interpreter. He said: “It is exciting to be more involved with Ayesha’s business and I hope to become a registered qualified interpreter.”

Her next challenge is to become an external verifier so she will be able to assess at degree level.