Toby Dawson: Help us campaign for BSL access on TV in Scotland (BSL)

Posted on March 24, 2016

Sign Toby’s petition here.

Our family was always totally ignorant to the news on STV at its usual teatime slot, even though there was an outburst of camera flashing being triggered off by someone’s appearance; we stayed engaged into our own conversation not paying much attention to the news.

It changed completely when it was time for the “News” because at that point we tapped each other’s shoulders enthusiastically in anticipation of watching the BSL interpretation of a very, very brief summary of the news – everybody stopped talking and started to watch the “News” in our household!

To watch this article in BSL signed by Toby, click play below:

Time went on by, and we were eventually treated to a slightly longer summary of the news on a Sunday into BSL on STV.

But nowadays there is no more regular BSL interpretation anymore on Scottish TV channels – much to my disappointment.

We have launched a Facebook page ( to lobby the likes of BBC Scotland, STV and any other Scottish based TV channels into providing BSL interpretation for the upcoming Scottish Parliament General Elections televised debates, and hopefully something more permanent for the future.

We tried contacting BBC Scotland and STV to see if they would provide BSL interpretation of the upcoming debates and we had no responses from them in return, and also we aren’t seeing anything happening from Deaf organisations on BSL access for broadcasting in Scotland, so therefore we have decided to take this into our own hands.

Why is it so important to us? Let me put it this way, if it wasn’t for Deaf people engaging with Scottish politics then there wouldn’t probably be a Scottish BSL Act – it is simple as that and imagine this – if Lilian Lawson wasn’t interested in politics at all and didn’t want to approach politicians with regards to her dream in seeing Scotland and other countries adopting a Bill for BSL.

The Scottish BSL Act might have not ever happened, so it’s vital that we keep the Scottish BSL community engaged for the next generation and like people have had said, the hard work with the Scottish BSL Act begins now and we cannot afford to rest on our laurels.

We had the Alex Salmond Vs Alistair Darling televised debates on BBC Scotland and STV being announced which led to a successful petition by Grant Ferguson.

Nothing much has happened since then, apart from the odd BBC Question Time episode featuring the Scottish leaders debate, and a brief appearance on BBC See Hear’s UK Parliament General Elections Special.

Even though I have great memories of my family watching together for a few minutes for the STV BSL interpretation and the summary on a Sunday too, we should have surely moved on since then?

One of our questions is this – “Why is it that Scotland, a country leading the way across the British Isles in terms of legalisation in sign language, doesn’t provide BSL interpretation on a regular basis for their Scottish based programmes?”

Our aim is to lobby BBC Scotland and STV into providing BSL interpretation, and we can’t promise that it will be successful because it will need YOU to help us; if you can support us then it is likely that we can do something in a short space of time. We promise that we will do our best for the Scottish BSL community.

Remember it is not just us Scots wanting access because there are the Welsh and the Northern Ireland Parliament General Elections coming up too, and of course the rest of the UK will be watching with interest too.

We will be very happy to support the Welsh BSL community and the Northern Irish BSL / ISL community if they wish to do something similar.

Sign Toby’s petition here.

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Posted in: toby dawson