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Policy actions 4 of 5

British Sign Language

We are taking steps to promote and support the use and understanding of British Sign Language (BSL) as we work with Deaf communities across Scotland to develop our first BSL National Plan.

The plan will set out the steps we will take between 2017 and 2023 to achieve our overall vision: to make Scotland the best place in the world to live, work and visit for people whose first or preferred language is BSL.

Developing the BSL National Plan

We ran a consultation on a draft BSL National Plan that closed on 31 May 2017. We are currently analysing the responses we have received.

Once the final National Plan has been published, listed authorities including local authorities, territorial NHS boards and universities and colleges must publish their own plans within a year.

Legislation and the BSL National Advisory Group

The British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015 came into force in October 2015. It promotes the use of BSL in Scotland, primarily by requiring certain authorities to develop BSL plans that outline how they will promote and raise awareness of the language.

We set up the BSL National Advisory Group (NAG) to represent the views of people with BSL as their first or preferred language.

The BSL NAG – which is made up of BSL users and public bodies – is helping to inform the development of the BSL National Plan.

Deaf Sector Partnership

We created the Deaf Sector Partnership (DSP) to support early implementation of the BSL (Scotland) Act. The DSP is made up of five delivery partners:

Voluntary Action Fund (VAF) provides support and monitoring for the DSP.

From 2015 to 2017 we allocated nearly £900,000 via DSP members to:

  • support the development of the BSL NAG
  • support people whose first or preferred language is BSL to be as involved as they want in developing the BSL National Plan
  • support the inclusion of Deafblind people whose first language is BSL
  • help public bodies to be more inclusive of people whose first or preferred language is BSL and to help them meet their duties under the BSL (Scotland) Act