Secondary school pupils could be able to take a GCSE in British Sign Language from 2025 after the subject content was finalised.
Parents, teachers and the deaf and hearing communities took part in a 12-week consultation on the content of the British Sign Language (BSL) GCSE.
The government is aiming to have exam board syllabuses approved for the new qualification from September 2025.
It will teach students how to sign effectively using BSL and it will give them an understanding of the history of sign language in the UK, the Department for Education (DfE) said.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: “Studying British Sign Language can open so many doors for young people, giving pupils an understanding of how thousands of people communicate and ultimately even expanding job prospects.
“This new qualification will not only break down barriers and give young people valuable new skills, but also celebrate the history and rich culture of British Sign Language.”
In 2018, the government said it would consider introducing a GCSE in BSL after deaf schoolboy Daniel Jillings campaigned for the new qualification and his family launched a legal challenge to get one instated as quickly as possible.
It is understood that the development of the GCSE was delayed due to the pandemic.
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Michael Hanton, deputy chief regulator of Ofqual, said: “We’re grateful to those who engaged with our consultation, which was a crucial step forward for this new and important qualification.
“We will now begin the detailed regulatory work to ensure that the new GCSE in British Sign Language will be high quality and fair for students.”
Susan Daniels, chief executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “After more than a decade of campaigning for a GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL) we’re delighted we now have the finalised course content published.
“A GCSE in BSL is vital as it will break down barriers and celebrate the rich culture and history of British Sign Language.
“An incredible amount of work has been undertaken to get to this point, not least from young deaf campaigner Daniel Jillings who fought so hard for the right to study a GCSE in BSL.”