Baby Sign Name Registration

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We at DeafLondon believe that everyone should have the right to register their sign name on their birth certificate, although currently this is not an option for most people. Frustrated by the negative response he received after the birth of his first child our CEO, Tom Lichy, decided he was going to change the way we think about sign names in the UK. Here’s his story.

Tom Says:
I’m the CEO of DeafLondon but I’m also a proud family man and am very lucky to have two beautiful daughters.

We had looked at registering a sign name with the birth of our first daughter but it was the wrong time. With the birth of Hazel we were determined we would be successful, and thanks to the help of many wonderful people, we were.

I have always been an advocate for the rights of deaf people. British Sign Language is a native language of the UK – as recognised by the UK government. BSL signers often have a sign name which forms a deep part of their personal identity. I believe every BSL signer should be able – if they wish – to have their BSL sign name formally recorded in official documentation. It is their name, it is their identity, so official ID should reflect that to be a truthful document.

This week we’ve been featured on the Daily Mail’s website and the Independent newspaper. Here’s our full original interview in The HUB – worth watching to get the full story.

A brief FAQ follows:
Why did we choose to register a sign name?
I’ve always advocated for the rights of deaf people. British Sign Language is a native language of the UK – as recognised by the UK government. BSL signers often have a sign name which forms a deep part of their personal identity. I believe every BSL signer should be able – if they wish – to have their BSL sign name formally recorded in official documentation. It is their name, it is their identity, so official ID should reflect that to be a truthful document.

Why am I called Tomato?
This is probably the most asked question. The simple answer is because I can be. I have two names, Tom and Tomato. I use Tom (or Thomas) when interacting with hearing culture – where I live and work and play . I use Tomato within Deaf culture – where I also live and work and play.

What is notation?
Signed languages do not usually have a written form. Notation is a system often used by researchers to describe a signs position, direction, handshape and facial expression. Written English is also a form of notation. It uses symbols to sort-of represent (not always clearly) spoken words. ‘Tom’ to a non-reader has no obvious link to the verbal spoken word ‘Tom’.

Why use UbOtDDstarL? Why not pictures or a video?
British law says that non-English names must be re-written into the English alphabet for formal recording on birth certificates and UK formal documents. For BSL, I would much prefer to use pictures or a video clip, but technology and the law isn’t ready for that yet.

Links:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2840423/Deaf-couple-s-daughter-Britain-sign-legally-recorded-birth-certificate.html
http://www.bslzone.co.uk/watch/deaf-world-britains-first-baby-be-registered-sign-name/
http://remark.uk.com/

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