Date set for final vote on the British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill

Lois Drake, Policy and Campaigns Assistant, Scotland

Lois Drake, Policy and Campaigns Assistant, Scotland

We are excited to announce that the Stage 3 debate and final vote by MSPs on whether to pass the Bill is due to take place in the Scottish Parliament on 17 September. With the Bill on course to become law, here we provide a quick overview.

The Bill aims to raise awareness of BSL and improve access to services for those using the language. It does this by requiring the Scottish Government and other local bodies to publish and implement their own plans on how they will promote the use of the language. It can therefore be considered as an enabling framework to public authorities for the promotion of BSL within their services. The Bill does not outline specific provision authorities must provide. It does, however, set out principles which listed authorities must have regard to. These principles will be contained in the National Plan.

It is our recommendation that the National Plan has a strong focus on child-centred provision and early-intervention, to ensure deaf children are given the best start in life and are supported to reach their full potential. In particular, we recommend that the National Plan addresses:

  1. Closing the education attainment gap experienced by deaf learners;
  2. Minimum levels of qualification in BSL for education practitioners; to ensure deaf learners are supported by Communication Support Workers who are able to accurately interpret what the teacher is saying;
  3. BSL becoming an accredited school qualification and having the same status as other languages;
  4. Improving the availability of Family Sign Language and other family support;
  5. Ensuring aspirations of the Bill are appropriately resourced.

NDCS welcomes the Bill and believes that it could act as a critical step in strengthening the position of the language in Scotland. If passed, the Bill has the potential to support more deaf children and their families to access their right to the support they need.

Action: Does your MSP support the Bill? Email your MSPs and ask them to vote in favour of passing the Bill.

For more information contact: campaigns.scotland@ndcs.org.uk.

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