British Sign Language (BSL): National Plan 2017 to 2023

Plan setting out actions to help ensure deaf and deafblind BSL users are fully involved in all aspects of daily and public life.

Executive Summary

The Scottish Government wants to make Scotland the best place in the world for BSL users* to live, work and visit. This means that people whose first or preferred language is BSL will be fully involved in daily and public life in Scotland, as active, healthy citizens, and will be able to make informed choices about every aspect of their lives.

The BSL (Scotland) Act 2015 requires public bodies in Scotland to publish plans every six years, showing how they will promote and support BSL. This is our first BSL National Plan and it covers
the Scottish Government and over 50 national public bodies that Scottish Ministers have responsibility for. Other public bodies, including local authorities, regional NHS boards, colleges and universities will publish their own BSL plans next year.

The BSL National Plan sets out ten long-term goals for BSL in Scotland, covering early years and education; training and work; health, mental health and wellbeing; transport; culture and the arts; justice and democracy. It describes 70 actions Scottish Ministers will take by 2020 to make progress towards these goals, including:

  • improving access to a wide range of information and public services in BSL;
  • removing the barriers that prevent BSL users* from becoming teachers;
  • investigating the level of BSL of teachers and support staff in schools;
  • developing Scottish Qualifications Authority ( SQA) awards in BSL;
  • enabling parents who use BSL to be fully involved in their child’s education;
  • expanding the teaching of BSL as a language to hearing pupils in schools;
  • improving the experience of students who use BSL, when they move from school to college, university, training and the world of work;
  • improving access to health care and mental health services in BSL;
  • ensuring that every Scottish Government funded employment and training opportunity is accessible to BSL users*, and that they are properly supported;
  • building the skills of qualified BSL/English interpreters to work in specialist settings like health, mental health and justice; and
  • removing obstacles to BSL users* participating in politics and public life, for example by promoting our Access to Elected Office Fund which can meet the costs of BSL interpreters for people wishing to stand for election in the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections.

The plan was developed with the active participation of D/deaf and Deafblind BSL users who worked with public bodies as part of the BSL National Advisory Group.

We will publish a progress report in 2020, with a further set of actions we will deliver by 2023. Future plans – which will build on our progress, will take us even closer to our ten long-term goals.


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