Introduction by Mark McDonald MSP, Minister for Childcare and Early Years
I am Mark McDonald, MSP for Aberdeen Donside and Minister for Childcare and Early Years. As the Scottish Minister with responsibility for British Sign Language ( BSL), I am determined to ensure that this historic legislation has a positive impact on Deaf and Deafblind BSL users.
Throughout the plan, we refer to ' BSL users'. This covers all people whose first or preferred language is BSL, including those who receive the language in a tactile form due to sight loss.
BSL is a language in its own right, with its own grammar, syntax and vocabulary. It has its own dialects and rich variation. Most importantly, it is a language which enables many of our Deaf and Deafblind citizens to learn, work, parent, be creative, live life to the full, and to make their contribution to our communities, our culture and our economy.
Over the last 12 months, members of the BSL National Advisory Group (which we call the NAG) have been working together to help develop Scotland's first draft BSL National Plan. The NAG is made up of Deaf and Deafblind BSL users and parents with Deaf children, working alongside representatives of public bodies which will have to implement the BSL (Scotland) Act. This collaborative approach has been a very positive, respectful and productive experience.
The NAG has been supported throughout this process by the Deaf Sector Partnership, which the Scottish Government has funded to help gather the views of BSL users around Scotland to support the development of the plan, and to make sure this consultation is fully accessible. Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far.
This draft plan covers the whole of the Scottish Government and over 50 national public bodies that Scottish Ministers have responsibility for. Other public bodies, including local authorities and regional NHS boards, will publish their own BSL plans next year. This first BSL National Plan will cover the next six years to 2023.
The draft BSL National Plan has ten long-term goals. These goals represent our collective dream for BSL in Scotland. But we know it will take longer than six years to reach these goals. So this first draft plan sets out the steps we think we can realistically achieve in the next six years. Future plans will take us even closer to our goals.
We want you to tell us what you think about the steps we will take in the first BSL National Plan. Are they the right steps? Are the steps achievable? Will the steps set us off in the right direction to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves? We will use the feedback we get during the consultation to revise the plan, and we will publish the final plan in October 2017.
I will conclude with this: we want to make Scotland the best place in the world for BSL users to live, work and visit. This means that Deaf and Deafblind BSL users 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.
So let's work together to make a positive difference in Scotland, celebrating the value, richness and diversity that BSL and those who use it contribute to our country.
Mark McDonald MSP
Email: Hilary Third