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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Gibson MSP

Delivering for Scotland’s British Sign Language Communities: Launch of Scotland's first ever BSL

The strategy, which is the first of its kind in the UK, aims to ensure that sign language users are fully involved in all aspects of daily and public life in Scotland. As part of the plans, major transport hubs such as train stations and airports will also be expected to provide important information in BSL as they would for any other language.

Scottish school pupils will be encouraged to take sign language classes and sit new exams in the subject, under plans to make Scotland “the best place in the world” for deaf people. More British Sign Language users will also be encouraged to become school teachers, according to an ambitious national plan launched by the SNP Government.

Sign language interpreters will also be made more widely available across Scotland’s public services, making it easier for deaf people to hold senior positions.

The BSL National Plan sets out 70 actions Scottish ministers will take by 2020 to improve the lives of people who use sign language, backed by £1.3m of public funding.

The document notes that BSL has its own “grammar, syntax and vocabulary” as well as “dialects and rich variation” across the UK. It adds:

“Most importantly, it is a language which enables many of our deaf and deafblind citizens to learn, work, parent, be creative, live life to the full, and to make their contribution to our communities, our culture and our economy.”

In a statement at Holyrood, Childcare and Early Years Minister Mark 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, work and visit.

“This 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.”

Kenneth Gibson added:

"I am pleased that this plan puts forward real and practical measures which will have a tangible impact on the lives of BSL users within Scotland.

"Our approach to promoting and supporting BSL has been highlighted as exemplary by the United Nation, and I am confident that this strategy will guarantee that BSL users are fully immersed in Scotland's public and professional life."

According to the British Deaf Association more than 12,500 people use BSL in Scotland, where it has been recognised as an official language since 2011.

To read the plan in full, please click here.


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