After years of campaigning, the passage of the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act (2015) in September 2015 was a landmark moment in Deaf history in Scotland. As a result of the Act the Scottish Government and public bodies like the NHS are now required to develop British Sign Language (BSL) plans which outline how they will promote and raise awareness of the language.
The Act also requires a National Advisory Group (NAG) to be set up to represent the views of people with BSL as their first or preferred language. The NAG will have the important job of advising the Scottish Government and public bodies on what should be in their plans.
Here’s the top 6 things to know:
- Two spaces are reserved on the NAG for families of deaf child who have BSL as their first or preferred language, one of these spaces is for a hearing parent or carer;
- Two spaces are also reserved on the NAG for deaf young people aged 10 to 17 (or up to 20 if they have experience of care). However young people will follow a separate application process because a Youth NAG is also going to be set up. Information about this will launch in January;
- You do not need to have formal experience of advisory groups to get involved in the NAG, your life experience and ability to represent the views of others in similar circumstances to your own is what counts;
- You can submit your application in BSL or English. NDCS (or any other Deaf Sector Partnership organisation) can help you with your application, get in touch with Annefirstname.lastname@example.org with any questions;
- You can find the application and information pack on the Deaf Sector Partnership website – with full BSL versions. There is also lots of information on Facebook, search for the ‘British Sign Language (Scotland) Act (2015)’ group to join the discussion;
- The deadline for applications to the main NAG is 28 January 2016.