British Sign Language - national plan: progress report

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

5. Family support, early learning, childcare

5.1 Progress in family support, early learning and childcare

BSL is a primary language within many families where one or more members is D/deaf or Deafblind, and vital in the way those families interact and communicate with service providers and others in the wider community. The Scottish Government is committed to supporting families in learning, using and accessing information in the language, and several actions were included in the 2017 Plan.

The Scottish Government has worked with leading partners to support parents of deaf children, to improve access to information for families, and to develop teaching material for early years learning.

  • Early learning and childcare information has been translated into BSL and shared through partner organisations.
  • A suite of free, online continuing professional learning (CPL) modules have been developed to support understanding and use of BSL in an Early Learning context.
  • The Scottish Booktrust has developed BSL content for their Bookbug app, with financial support from the Scottish Government.
  • The Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) fund has provided training, resources and equipment to support BSL training and use.

5.2 Actions and outcomes

Action No. 10


Improve access to early years services for parents whose child is diagnosed as D/deaf or Deafblind by developing information about BSL and Deaf culture for service providers who support parents, such as health visitors.

Update June 2021

The early learning and childcare information leaflet has now been translated into BSL and shared via partners.

Action No. 11


Assist families of D/deaf and Deafblind children by ensuring that they have access to BSL resources as early as possible in their child's life. This will include consulting with BSL users* and other stakeholders to assess the most appropriate digital platforms for signposting and disseminating information.

Update June 2021

To support professionals working in the ELC sector to further build and specialise their skills, the Scottish Government has worked with leading partners to develop a suite of free, online, continued professional learning (CPL) modules. This includes the module 'Building confidence in identifying and responding to additional support needs'. The guidance regarding BSL is additionally included in the webinar which is recorded and made available to learners who were unable to attend. Evaluation shows learners respond and interact this.

Action No. 12


Develop BSL resources and advice within key programmes such as 'BookBug' so that parents can be supported to interact with their child during this critical developmental phase.

Update June 2021

To help support parents to interact with their children during the critical development ages of 0 – 5 the Scottish Government has provided funding to the Scottish Booktrust to develop BSL content for their Bookbug App. 'Mac, Pip and the Falling Stars' was launched in May 2021, and has had almost 15,000 downloads so far. Another BSL book is in production currently, building on this content.

Action No. 13


Work with partners to determine the best way of enabling families and carers to learn BSL so that they can communicate effectively with their D/deaf or Deafblind child in the crucial early years (0-8 years).

Update June 2021

Identifying and forming relevant partnerships to take this multidisciplinary area forward has been challenging, and was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As we continue to recover from COVID-19 it will be important to raise awareness about how crucial it is for families and carers to be able to learn BSL, accessing resources as early as possible. We will identify key partners to progress this action further.

Action No. 14


Test out a new approach to supporting older D/deaf and Deafblind children (8 years +) and young people, and their families to learn BSL.

Update June 2021

This action will be reviewed with relevant stakeholders to determine specific needs and approaches in learning BSL for children in this age group and their families and carers. This information will be used to plan and test a suitable approach.

Action No. 15


Ensure that children and/or parents/carers who use BSL can benefit from the new £2 million Inclusion Fund, as part of the increase in early learning and childcare provision.

Update June 2021

The ELC Inclusion Fund is a £2 million multiyear fund that supports children with additional support needs to access their funded ELC entitlement ELC settings can apply for funding for training, resources and equipment including BSL training for practitioners to support D/deaf or Deafblind children in their care. To date the fund has distributed over £1.5 million to support children with additional support needs to access funded ELC. BSL training is eligible for funding on an individual basis.



Back to top