British Sign Language (BSL) national plan 2023-2029: consultation

We are seeking views on the British Sign Language National Plan 2023 to 2029 to inform the final publication in autumn 2023.

Part 2: Introduction

With the introduction of the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015, the Scottish Government is committed to making Scotland the best place in the world for BSL users* to live, work, visit and learn. As part of this commitment, the Scottish Government is introducing the BSL National Plan 2023-2029 to build on the successes of the previous plan, outlined in the progress report which you can view here, and setting new targets for the next six years. This draft plan outlines six priority areas in:

1. BSL Data Strategy

2. BSL Workforce

3. Supporting Deaf Children, Young People and their Families;

4. BSL Accessibility

5. The Promotion of the Heritage and Culture of BSL

6. Social Care and Wellbeing

Each of the priorities has a mix of short-, mid- and long-term goals that we will unpack further in the final write up of the plan, taking into account feedback from this consultation. We understand that our work around BSL will go beyond 2029, and we have set out a range of actions across priority themes that can be achieved within the next six years with a view to continue building on our work beyond 2029. You can view the draft actions in Annex C.

The Scottish Government wants your input to revise the BSL National Plan 2023-2029 ready for publication by 31 October 2023. We hope to understand more about what people, communities and organisations would like to see from the Scottish Government in terms of implementing the actions under key priorities identified by our initial discussions with partner organisations.

We have listened to the feedback around the 2017 BSL National Plan consultation, which identified a need for meaningful two-way dialogue with members of the BSL communities who use only BSL in their daily lives. We are working in partnership with key leading organisations with diverse knowledge and networks across the BSL communities of Scotland to deliver accessible, culturally appropriate consultation sessions to ensure that the BSL community can make meaningful contributions. The Scottish Government embeds equality in our approach to policy development. We recognise the diverse needs of all people, including those within the BSL community, and have approached this consultation to make it as inclusive as possible and by targeting specific groups within the BSL community to gather views.

The Scottish Government funds the Contact Scotland BSL online interpreting Video Relay Service, which enables Deaf and Deafblind British Sign Language (BSL) users to telephone, via video relay interpreters, private sector numbers as well as statutory and third sector numbers, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The service is provided by Sign Language Interactions (SLI) on behalf of the Scottish Government and it offers BSL users the means to communicate in real-time, with services and family and friends. The service is also accessible to Deafblind BSL users, by making use of braille displays.

The Contact Scotland BSL contract is coming up for renewal. We are asking BSL users their opinions of the service so we can make improvements.

*BSL users refers to people whom BSL is their first or preferred language, including those who receive the language in a tactile form due to sight loss.



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