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Investigation of Access to Public Services in Scotland Using British Sign Language

DescriptionResearch report exploring the extent of access to public services in British Sign language (BSL) by Deaf people. A DVD reporting on the research is available in British Sign Language.
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateMay 24, 2005


Jim Kyle, Anna Marie Reilly,
Lorna Allsop, Monica Clark, Alexy Dury
Deaf Studies Trust, 16 Whiteladies Rd, Bristol BS8 2LG

Scottish Executive Social Research

ISBN 0 7559 2539 4
ISSN 0950 2254

This document is also available in pdf format (1315k)




Action Points

Chapter one: Introduction
Initiatives in Scotland
Deaf people as members of the Public
Who are the Deaf people?
What do we mean sign language?
Deaf people in Europe
Deaf People in the UK
Research Questions
BSL Access in Scotland

Chapter two: Methodology
The planned research

Chapter three: Deaf BSL users in Scotland
Late acquisition of BSL
Variations in use of interpreters
Access to information sources
Use of telecommunications and email
Use of Public Services
Summary - Deaf BSL Users in Scotland

Chapter four: Extent of access to public services in BSL
Some positive experiences of access
Deaf people trying to cope in direct access
Physical Barriers in direct communication with Services
Direct contact with Emergencies and Hospitals
Direct contact with the police
Other contacts where lack of access in BSL proves to be a problem
Is there access in BSL?
Comments on Access

Chapter five: Experience of access and use of BSL
Reactions when alone
Taking a friend or advocate
Service personnel visiting the home
Dealing with Doctors and Health Care
Hearing people at work
Comments on Experiences

Chapter six: Alternatives for Deaf people in communication when BSL was not available
Writing Down
Trying to speak
Trying to lip-read
Automated interfaces: tickets and door entry
Security - access to buildings with voice activated alerts
Information kiosks
Simplifying the English
Use of Fax
Use of text messaging ( SMS)
Use of the Internet
Emergency Services and Call Centres
Comments on alternative communication methods

Chapter seven: BSL Provided in a different way
Using signing intermediaries - Interpreters
Shortage of Interpreters
Interpreters and Privacy
Information provided in BSL on television
BSL information on video
Remote video information in BSL - Internet and Mobile
Adding signing and subtitles to existing materials
Hearing people learning to sign
Comments on alternative means of providing BSL

Chapter eight: Conclusions
Initial summation
Results in Perspective
Final Points - answers to the research questions

Appendix one: Shetland and Lewis
Stornoway and Lewis
Comments on Stornoway
Lerwick and Shetland
Comments on Lerwick

Appendix two: Questions used in Interview

Appendix three: Focus Group Questions

Appendix four: Description of the Sample

Appendix five: BSL Access model

List of Tables and Figures

Figure 1.1: Age and employment category for Deaf people in the UK ( DPIC, 2000)
Figure 1.2: Deaf and Hearing study at University or college ( DPIC, 2000)
Figure 3.1: Use of interpreters by age
Figure 3.2: Use of interpreter by job
Table 3.1: Have you booked/used an interpreter in the following places?
Figure 3.3: Textphone use decline with age
F igure 3.4: Older people use more fax
Figure 3.5: Age and text messaging
Figure 3.6: Age and email use
Table 3.2: Pattern of use of public services (%)
Table A4.1: Age and Location
Table A4.2 Location of Interview and home
Table A4.3 Age Group and marital Status
Table A4.4: Age Group and Gender
Table A4.5: Age Group and Job classification
Table A5.1: Summary of Scenarios and evidence-based conclusions


The Project was carried out with the support and help of the advisory group in Bristol. This consisted of Deaf advisers: Clark Denmark, Hal Draper, Alexy Dury, Linda Day.

The Research Advisory Group invited by the Scottish Executive also provided considerable support as did the Project Officer in Edinburgh.

Main thanks are extended to the Deaf people - over 140 of them - all over Scotland who gave of their time and their views in order to allow the report to be formulated.

Thanks to all

The DST Research Team

April 2004

The views expressed in this report are those of the researcher and
do not necessarily represent those of the Department or Scottish Ministers.

Further copies of this report are available priced £5.00. Cheques should be made payable to Blackwell's Bookshop and addressed to:

Blackwell's Bookshop
53 South Bridge

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