beta

You're viewing our new website - find out more

Publication - Consultation Responses

British Sign Language (BSL) National Plan 2017-2023: analysis of consultation responses

Published: 23 Oct 2017
Part of:
Communities and third sector, Equality and rights
ISBN:
9781788512725

The report sets out the analysis of the public consultation on Scotland's draft British Sign Language (BSL) National Plan.

71 page PDF

985.8kB

71 page PDF

985.8kB

Contents
British Sign Language (BSL) National Plan 2017-2023: analysis of consultation responses
Democracy

71 page PDF

985.8kB

Democracy

BSL users should be able to represent the people of Scotland as elected politicians at a national and local level, and to serve on boards of our public bodies.

Steps to be taken by 2023:

51. Assess whether the Access to Elected Office fund met the needs of BSL users. This pilot fund offers support to cover additional costs, like BSL/English interpreting, who wish to stand for selection or election in the 2017 local government elections.

52. Offer advice and support to BSL users about how to participate in politics and to political parties and organisations about how to be more inclusive of BSL users.

53. We will raise awareness of public appointments as a way to participate in public life. We will make sure that the boards of public bodies know about BSL and the BSL National Plan and what they need to do.

BSL users should have full access to information about democracy, including voting

Steps to be taken by 2023:

54. Provide better information about voting in BSL and review whether it has been effective.

55. We will encourage political parties to produce election information in BSL.

Question 28: Do you think these are the right steps under Democracy?

In total, 79 people or groups answered Question 28. Of these, 80% agreed that these are the right steps under Democracy, 9% disagreed, and 11% said they did not know.

Question 29 - Please tell us why you think this.

Question 30 - If there are there any additional steps, or potential solutions that you think could be added to the Democracy section, please tell us.

Around 70 people or groups made a written / BSL comment about democracy and it was discussed at around 25 of the events.

Some of the general comments made included that it is very important for Deaf and Deafblind BSL users to be able to participate fully and be actively engaged in the democratic process. This includes being able to stand for elected office and, if successful, be able to represent the Deaf / Deafblind BSL communities. Someone suggested that it would be particularly good to have a Deaf BSL user Member of the Scottish Parliament ( MSP).

A number of people said that the goals and steps proposed should help Deaf / Deafblind BSL users be more actively involved in the democratic process but a few people commented on the amount of work that is required and that achieving these gaols will be challenging. A small number of people suggested that the goals are in the wrong order and that the first and primary goal should be for all Deaf / Deafblind BSL users to be able to understand 'politics', and then vote with confidence.

A small number of people felt the goals or actions were vague and that more information is needed or a more comprehensive set of actions is required. A small number of others suggested these goals and steps may be less of a priority than some of the other issues covered in the Draft BSL National Plan.

Access to Elected Office fund (Step 51)

Comments people or groups made about this step included:

  • It is only fair that Deaf / Deafblind BSL users should be able to represent the people of Scotland as elected politicians at a national and local level. Deaf / Deafblind BSL users should have the same opportunities as anyone else to stand for an elected position. This should include bodies such as Community Councils and School Boards.
  • It would be very difficult to stand for elected office without these resources being available.
  • Many people do not know anything about this fund and that it is important to share information about these types of resources so people a chance to apply for them.
  • It will be important to consider whether the Fund also meets the needs of Deafblind BSL users.
  • There has already been work in this area, for example the Access to Democracy Project (A2D) by the SCoD, which was funded by the Electoral Commission. This could offer a potential model for any further work.

Suggestions made or ideas people or groups had included:

  • There should be a full review of the Access to Elected Office Fund on BSL access as well as BSL participation.
  • This should be a permanent fund and not just a pilot. No cap should be applied to amount of funding that can be made available. People may require several forms of communication support and the funding will need to be sufficient to allow for this.
  • The Access to Elected Office fund should be extended to give people whose first or preferred language is BSL the opportunity to develop the necessary skills to stand for political office.
  • Expenditure for BSL / English interpreting should be excluded from a candidate's campaign spending limits.
  • A central website could share information about funds such as this. However, the information provided should be straightforward and the website should be easy to navigate. The information needs to be provide bilingually in both BSL and English.

Advice and support on participation (Step 52)

Comments people or groups made about this step included:

  • It seems that BSL / English interpretation is not being made available at many political engagement events, such as hustings.
  • Political parties have a responsibility to support any party members who are Deaf/ Deafblind BSL users and who want to stand for elected office.
  • The Scottish Parliament, the UK Parliament, the European Parliament and local authorities should do all possible to ensure Deaf / Deafblind BSL users have equal access to their elected representatives.

Suggestions made or ideas people or groups had included:

  • Information needs to be made available. For example, there should be a hub or central point of contact on providing advice, information and guidance support to Deaf / Deafblind BSL users about how to take part in politics. The SCoD could work with the Scottish Government to develop clear resources, including offline and online BSL versions.
  • BSL / English interpreters should be available at local political meetings and this should be publicised before the event to encourage more Deaf / Deafblind BSL users to come along. The Scottish Government should encourage organisations holding hustings events etc. to advertise the availability of BSL / English interpreters.
  • Political parties could hold 'open days' to explain what they are looking to do and how they are going to include Deaf / Deafblind BSL users.

Appointments to public bodies (Step 53)

Comments people or groups made about this step included:

  • It is only fair that Deaf / Deafblind BSL users should be able to serve on boards of our public bodies.
  • This step is quite vague and it would be difficult to measure the effectiveness of any action taken.

Suggestions made or ideas people or groups had included:

  • The public bodies should know about BSL, staff should attend Introduction to BSL courses and have refresher courses every year. They should also need to show that they are aware of BSL and the BSL National Plan.
  • Information, advice and guidance on applying needs to be available in BSL. The application process should be bilingual and BSL applications should be accepted with BSL as their first language.
  • Wording about encouraging and supporting Deaf / Deafblind BSL users to seek public appointments should be added to this step.
  • There should be a central fund to pay for BSL / English interpreting services at selection interviews for public or governance roles as well as to interpret such meetings if the Deaf / Deafblind BSL user was successful.

Information about voting in BSL (Step 54)

Comments people or groups made about this step included:

  • Some people may not know about the recent need to register to vote again. This information is not clear enough in general and not be accessible to Deaf / Deafblind BSL users.
  • There are already resources available offline and online for Deaf / Deafblind BSL users in Scotland. The SCoD made a DVD. This was filmed in Scotland with Deaf / Deafblind BSL users in Scotland and is accessible to their regional signs.
  • Providing better information about voting in BSL can be challenging. In particular, The Electoral Commission is strict and does not allow much flexibility with changing wording etc.
  • Thought should be given to how a Deaf / Deafblind person is supported at the polling station, including through the use of new technology.
  • It will be important to make sure that people's privacy is respected and they do not find themselves coerced into voting in a particular way.

Suggestions made or ideas people or groups had included:

  • The role of the Electoral Commission in providing tailored information in BSL should be mentioned in the Draft BSL National Plan.
  • There should be information in BSL about how councils and government works, and the process involved in elections and voting. There should also be information in BSL about how to get involved and take part in debates. This type of information should also be made available in schools.
  • The signs at polling stations should be clear and staff should be trained or should have a BSL / English interpreter on site to answer any questions that a Deaf / Deafblind BSL voter may have. There should be a BSL video / film clip showing Deaf / Deafblind BSL voters how to cast a vote at all polling stations.

Election information produced by political parties (Step 55)

Comments people or groups made about this step included:

  • Political parties should lead by example. Each political party should employ BSL experts to support their work with BSL communities.
  • Deaf organisations have been critical about the availability of information in BSL, especially during the Referendum on Scottish Independence.

Suggestions made or ideas people or groups had included:

  • This step should be changed to say that political parties must provide information in BSL.
  • All manifestos and leaflets should be produced in alternative formats.
  • All political broadcasts should be subtitled and have a BSL / English interpreter on screen. All Pre-election and parliamentary debates should also have a BSL / English interpreter on screen.
  • It would be better to have different people interpreting or translating for different political parties. It could be confusing if different parties used the same BSL translator or BSL / English interpreters.
  • There should be a central fund to pay for BSL / English interpreting services at debates and hustings, or to pay for selection interviews for public or governance roles as well as to interpret such meetings if successfully selected.

Other comments people made about democracy

  • Public service, state or emergency announcements should be in BSL. There are examples of good practice by other countries, such as public announcements with BSL / English interpreters or Deaf Video Relay interpreters ( VRI) in vision and often next to the official spokesperson. BSL livestream / live filming translations of Council and other key public sector meetings should be the 'norm'.
  • The focus is on how adult Deaf / Deafblind BSL users can engage with the electoral democratic process but it is also important to look at ways that young Deaf / Deafblind BSL users can become involved in participatory forms of democracy. There is no mention of how Deaf / Deafblind children and young people will be involved in the decisions that affect them and in holding Scottish Government to account.
  • The Deaf Sector Partnership Youth National Advisory Group ( DSP YNAG) should be involved in the development of the BSL National Plan. Members of the Youth Parliament could work with Deaf / Deafblind BSL users at school to encourage future involvement in politics.
  • A good step in promoting democracy in Scotland for Deaf / Deafblind BSL users would be the establishment of a new Scottish Deaf national organisation.

Contact