National plan for British Sign Language

Key actions to be taken by 2020.

An action plan which aims to make Scotland the best place in the world for British Sign Language (BSL) users to live, work and visit has been unveiled.

The first BSL national plan to be produced anywhere in the UK sets out the Scottish Government’s ambition to ensure deaf and deafblind BSL users are fully involved in all aspects of daily and public life, from early years and education to culture and transportation.

It describes a range of key actions to be implemented by 2020, including:

  • Removing the barriers that prevent BSL users from becoming registered teachers
  • Enabling more pupils to choose to learn BSL in school and developing Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) awards in BSL
  • Guaranteeing all Scottish Government funded employment initiatives are fully accessible to BSL users
  • Researching technological solutions to providing information in BSL in transport hubs such as train stations and airports
  • Building the skills of qualified BSL interpreters to work in specialist settings like health, mental health and justice

Minister for Childcare and Early Years Mark McDonald said:

“Our long term aim is ambitious - we want to bring about change that has a real, practical impact on the day to day lives of BSL users and which puts Scotland right up there as the best place in the world for BSL users to live and visit.

“This plan, which has been developed in partnership with the BSL National Advisory Group, reflects the priorities of deaf and deafblind BSL users in Scotland and I am confident that it will help us to make substantial progress towards achieving that ambition.

“The clear, measurable actions that are laid out in this plan for the next three years demonstrate our commitment to celebrating the value, richness and diversity that BSL and those who use it contribute to our country.”

Dr Terry Riley OBE Chair of the British Deaf Association , said:

“The Scottish Government’s first BSL National Plan sets a brilliant example for the rest of the United Kingdom to follow. Scotland’s approach to promoting and supporting BSL has been highlighted as exemplary by the United Nations, and the Scottish Government is to be congratulated.”

Mark Wheatley, Executive Director of European Union of the Deaf (EUD), said:

“The EUD recognises the Scottish Government’s BSL National Plan and stresses that it is vital for the deaf and sign language communities to support, encourage and implement the 10 long-term goals, especially with regards to inclusive and accessible education for all deaf children.”


A BSL version of the press release is available.

The BSL National Plan, which is published in both BSL and English, covers all national public bodies directly answerable to Scottish Ministers. Other public bodies will have to publish their own plans next year.

Funding of £1.3m will be provided to the BSL (Scotland) Act Partnership over the next three years to support the implementation of the BSL National Plan. The partnership is made up of British Deaf Association (Scotland), Deaf Action, Deafblind Scotland, National Deaf Children’s Society, and Scottish Council on Deafness.

The plan runs from 2017-2023, and describes 70 actions the Scottish Government will take in the next three years to make progress towards 10 long-term goals. In 2020, a progress report will be published detailing a further set of actions to be delivered by 2023. Future plans will be published every six years.

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