British Sign Language national plan published

Written by Tom Freeman on 24 October 2017 in News

New BSL national plan covers all national public bodies directly answerable to Scottish Ministers

Sign language - clip art

Scotland will incorporate British Sign Language (BSL) into public places including schools and hospitals, according to a new action plan published today.

The first BSL national plan to be published in the UK was launched this morning by Scotland’s children’s minister, Mark McDonald, at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow.

The document lays out a number of ambitions to be implemented by 2020, including giving more school pupils the option of learning the language and investing in more BSL interpreters to work in services. It covers all national public bodies directly answerable to Scottish Ministers.


It follows Labour MSP Mark Griffin’s BSL (Scotland) Bill in 2015, which received the backing of all political parties.

As they did when the bill was passed, a number of BSL users gathered in the Scottish Parliament today to see the action plan introduced, with Presiding Officer Ken MacIntosh beginning the debate in BSL.

McDonald said: “Our long-term aim is ambitious. We want to make Scotland the best place in the world for people whose first or preferred language is BSL to live in, work in and visit.

“That means that deaf and deafblind BSL users will be fully involved in daily and public life in Scotland as active, healthy citizens and will be able to make informed choices about every aspect of their lives.”

A number of organisations representing deaf people have been awarded £1.3m funding to ensure the plan makes a difference, he added.

These include the British Deaf Association, Deaf Action, Deafblind Scotland, the National Deaf Children’s Society and the Scottish Council on Deafness.

Dr Terry Riley, chair of the British Deaf Association, said: “The Scottish Government’s first BSL National Plan sets a brilliant example for the rest of the United Kingdom to follow. Scotland’s approach to promoting and supporting BSL has been highlighted as exemplary by the United Nations, and the Scottish Government is to be congratulated.”

BSL is used at home by more than 12,500 people in Scotland, and contains regional variations and dialects.




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