Deaf News: Scottish Parliament launches Facebook group to get Deaf community’s views on BSL Bill

Posted on December 4, 2014



In what’s been called a “stunning” move, the Scottish Parliament has launched a Facebook group to get the Deaf community’s views on the BSL Bill.

Campaigning groups such as Spit the Dummy and Campaign for a BSL Act and the Pardon group have thrived on Facebook in recent years, and this has clearly prompted the Scottish Parliament to use the social network in order to get an idea of the Deaf community’s views on the Bill.

The page says:

The British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill aims to promote the use of British Sign Language (BSL) by requiring the Scottish Ministers and a range of public bodies to prepare and publish BSL plans.

The Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee wants to hear your views about the proposals. The legislation will affect only Scotland so we are particularly interested in the views of people living in Scotland.

A pinned post (which stays at the top of the page) asks two questions of the Deaf community in Scotland in BSL and English (click here to see the BSL translation on the Facebook page):

1. Do you think we need to change the law to promote the use of BSL and, if so, why?

2. It is hoped the Bill will, in practice, lead public authorities to increase the use they make of BSL and the extent to which they are in a position to respond to demand for services in BSL. How realistic do you think this aim is and to what extent do you believe the Bill can achieve this objective?

The move has been endorsed by academics working in Deaf research. Professor Graham Turner, Director of Research at the School of Management and Languages at Heriot Watt University, said:

This is an absolutely unprecedented attempt by no less an authority than The Scottish Parliament itself to bring itself to the BSL community and invite that community to express its views on the language rights of Deaf people.

This is the first time that the Scottish Parliament has ever used Facebook to open itself up to any community.

I think this is breathtaking. It is an open invitation to BSL users to post their comments, in a place where they know the Parliament is watching and will ‘harvest’ their views. I think we owe it to them to encourage replies.

You can see the group, and like it, here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/800527046656790/804234196286075

Watch Lee Robertson’s BSL article about the BSL Bill here: http://limpingchicken.com/2014/11/06/lee-robertson-deaf-people-in-scotland-need-to-ask-their-msps-to-support-the-bsl-bill-bsl/

There are a range of questions in the call for evidence, and they can be seen in BSL at this link: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/help/83958.aspx

The closing date for responses is 2nd February 2015, and all responses should be sent to the Committee clerks at this email address:ec.committee@scottish.parliament.uk

Or responses (in written English only) can be posted to: Clerk to the Education and Culture Committee, Room T3.40, The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP.

You can find out all about the Bill in BSL at this link: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/help/82866.aspx

You can also download the documents in English here: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/82853.aspx

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Posted in: deaf news