For the first time, the 2011 Census included a question on the Scots language. Respondents were asked to state whether they are able to understand, speak, read or write Scots and results indicate that 1.5m people reported that they could speak Scots and 1.9m reported that they could speak, read, write or understand Scots. The information gathered provides valuable information on the Scots language across Scotland and has the potential to help policy development in this area. Further information on the census results can be found on Scotland’s Census website - http://www.scotlandscensus.gov.uk/.
It was important to raise awareness of the question in order to ensure the people with Scots language abilities responded appropriately. In September 2010 the Minister for Culture and External Affairs established a short life working group to identify activities which would raise awareness of the Scots language question in the 2011 Census. Two of the main activities undertaken were contributions to briefing and training for GROS census staff being provided by Michael Hance, Director, Scots Language Centre and the development of a website which allowed census respondents to hear examples of Scots from their own area. Following its launch, the website received wide media coverage. www.ayecan.com.