Deaf News: British Sign Language Bill formally introduced in Scotland

Posted on October 31, 2014

Labour MSP Mark Griffin’s British Sign Language (BSL) (Scotland) Bill has been formally introduced in the Scottish Parliament.

To see this article in BSL, courtesy of Tessa Padden, from our supporter, Signworld, who offer online BSL learning, press play below.

The Bill, which seeks to increase awareness of BSL and improve the services available for Scotland’s Deaf population, has been widely supported within the Deaf community and received the support of 43 MSPs from all political parties to move it to Stage One proceedings.

The Bill would place a requirement on the Scottish Government to produce a national plan for BSL. Relevant public authorities would also have to develop their own plans, highlighting what they will do to increase awareness of the language within their organisations and across Scotland.

1,192 responded to the public consultation, a high figure for Members Bills.

Mark said:

I am delighted that my British Sign Language Bill has been formally introduced.

BSL is the first language of many Deaf people in Scotland. It is the only language some have ever known, or ever will know, yet getting access to basic information in BSL can be incredibly difficult.

Simple things that so many of us take for granted such as arranging a medical appointment or reporting a crime are incredibly difficult for those who communicate in BSL. This has to change.

My Bill seeks to increase awareness of BSL throughout Scottish society, put pressure on the Scottish Government and relevant public authorities to develop action plans on improving access to information in BSL and work towards breaking down the barriers facing Scotland’s Deaf population on a daily basis.

I look forward to working with the members and stakeholders, as they look closely at the proposals over the next few months.

Professor Graham Turner, Director of the Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies at Heriot-Watt University said:

We warmly welcome the BSL Bill and hope it will create the circumstances in which BSL is appropriately recognised as one of Scotland’s native languages.

The cultural heritage of BSL users must be protected and promoted so signers can flourish in a smarter, healthier and fairer society.

Over 12,500 British Sign Language users share far fewer than 100 professional interpreters in Scotland. It’s vital this Bill harnesses the hearing population’s growing interest in learning BSL and experiencing its creative richness; provides equal access to vital everyday services for BSL users; and enables Deaf people to secure and sustain employment that recognises their full potential.

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