Mansfield deaf comedian stands up for deaf community with proposed Bill

editorial image
Share this article

A Mansfield deaf comedian has started a campaign to make sign language a recognised language throughout the UK.

John Smith lost his hearing when he was three and a half after contracting Meningitus. Although he cannot remember being able to hear he has never let his disability hold him back.

Through his celebrity status as a comedian Mr Smith started campaign group Spit the Dummy and Campaign for BSL Act earlier this year to help the deaf community have more legal rights.

John (48) said: “We wish for BSL to be as equal in the eyes of the law as English and Welsh.

“I particularly want to create an impact in Mansfield and the hearing world to represent the deaf community.

“There is very much two different worlds, the hearing world and the deaf world. It is a hard life but we want to try and make it more equal.”

The campaign champions for an Act of Parliament that reinforces and gives legal protection to British Sign Language (BSL) as an officially recognised languagen of the UK.

BSL was recognised on 18th March in 2003 but was not given the same legal support as languages like Welsh.

Mr Smith added: “I try to get out in the community as much as possible and tutor young people in BSL in schools and community groups.”

Newcastle-born John performed his first standup seven years ago after being persuaded by friends to be funny for a living. Since then he has performed around the world, including Europe and hosted a gig in Chicago.

Mr Smith said: “I try to break down barriers through my performances. I talk about school, everday life, government and equality.”

John will be bringing his brand of comedy to Mansfield Central Library Theatre on 8th November from 7.30pm. Tickets are £15 and available online at