British Sign Language - national plan: progress report

A progress report on the British Sign Language (BSL) national plan.

10. Transport

10.1 Progress in transport

In 2016 the Scottish Government published Going Further, a plan outlining how we intend to develop and deliver a transport framework that works for everyone who lives in or visits Scotland. Part of this is a commitment to make transport more accessible to all, including BSL users, and this aspiration was picked up and incorporated into the BSL National Plan in 2017.

Since then, progress has been made in making information on transport available in BSL, and in training transport providers to communicate with users. Unsurprisingly the COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted transport more than most sectors, has held back some work, but foundations for future progress have been laid. Some key achievements so far include:

  • A series of webinars on the annual delivery plan for 2021/22, including BSL interpreters.
  • Cycling by Design – the Scottish Government's initiative on cycling infrastructure – has engaged with the deaf community.
  • In 2020, Scotrail launched a BSL app which helps staff communicate with BSL users.
  • The Mobility and Accessibility Committee Scotland (MACS) has published guidance on assisting disabled passengers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Department for Transport has launched their REAL disability equality training programme for transport providers. The toolkit has been shared with all operators in Scotland.

10.2 Actions and outcomes

Action No. 50


Ensure that transport users, including BSL users*, can participate in the on-going feedback process of the 'Going Further: Scotland's Accessible Travel Framework'.

Update June 2021

In Transport Scotland we have been engaging with stakeholders – including D/deaf individuals via Skype, Zoom and MS Teams to help inform priorities for the annual delivery plan for 2021/2022. It has been crucial this year to take time to pause and consider what steps can be taken to improve accessibility and ensure we have priorities that have been agreed by disabled people. We have held a series of webinars, which have included BSL interpreters to specifically ensure the events were accessible to BSL users and enable their views to be heard. We have also worked with Disability Equality Scotland to run weekly polls on issues that matter to a wide range of disabled people. We have also engaged with the deaf community to input to Cycling by Design.

Our Accessible Travel Steering Group includes representation from BSL users and the Mobility and Access Committee (MACS) whom we sponsor has members with hearing and sight impairments.

We will continue to address the low availability of sign language interpreters or people with some knowledge of signing.

Action No. 51


Research technological solutions for providing accessible information in transport hubs (for example train stations, airports etc.)

Update June 2021

In 2020 Scotrail launched a BSL app which will help Scotrail's frontline staff communicate with BSL users during their journey. Transport Scotland have commissioned the civil engineers Jacobs to undertake research into the different technologies that are or could become available – and others with hearing impairments. This will be shared once available.

Action No. 52


Create guidance for passengers who use BSL on how to contact transport providers when things go wrong on a journey.

Update June 2021

During the last 12 months different pieces of guidance has been produced to provide additional help to disabled travelers during the pandemic. MACS have produced two specific pieces of COVID-19 guidance:

  • Guidance for transport operators on assisting disabled passengers.
  • Guidance for Local Authorities to ensure the mobility needs of disabled people are fully considered in temporary street infrastructure.

We continue to engage routinely with our key stakeholders and ensure that our communications – whether online or printed – are inclusive and accessible.

Action No. 53


Develop training for transport providers which includes strategies for communicating with BSL users*.

Update June 2021

The Department for Transport (DfT) have launched their REAL disability equality training programme to help improve the sector's confidence and skills in delivering inclusive journeys for disabled passengers. The package has been developed with extensive consultation with disabled people and DPOs and is underpinned by two important values: respect and empathy, and promotes two important actions: ask and listen.

It will be hosted on the Inclusive Transport Leaders Scheme website. Transport Scotland shared the toolkit with all operators across all modes. We will also continue to promote this moving forward.



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