British Sign Language (BSL): national plan 2023 to 2029

Sets out a range of government actions to tackle barriers faced by British Sign Language (BSL) users to help make Scotland the best place in the world for BSL users to live, work, visit and learn.

Ministerial Foreword

It is a source of great pride that Scotland holds a significant place in the rich culture and history of British Sign Language (BSL). Moray House at the University of Edinburgh was one of three institutions in the UK that confirmed BSL is a language, and the name ‘British Sign Language’ was first published from Moray House in 1975. An important cornerstone in the progress that has led up to this point.

BSL is a vibrant and important language, with its own grammar, syntax and vocabulary. Many Scottish citizens use this language to participate and contribute to our communities, our culture, and our economy. For many deaf and deafblind people in Scotland, BSL is their first language. I am proud that BSL is an integral part of the Scottish language, culture, and heritage.

I am pleased to introduce the British Sign Language National Plan 2023-2029, a six-year plan that represents our ongoing commitment to making Scotland the best place in the world for BSL users to live, work, visit and learn.

We have focused on ten priority areas within this plan with emphasis on children, young people and their families, health and wellbeing, celebrating deaf culture and tackling accessibility for BSL users that impacts on a number of areas such as transport, democratic participation and access to justice. These priority areas have been developed to respond to the barriers that BSL users have told us are important to them.

Our focus over the next six years will be to deliver actions that will lead to improved equality, opportunities and outcomes for BSL users. This plan will continue to be influenced by other national initiatives and the lived experience and priorities of BSL users.

I would like to thank those who participated in our public consultation on this plan, in particular those in the BSL community. We have worked with representative organisations for the BSL community to better understand the impact of the actions and policies we are proposing. I am clear that this dialogue must continue during the lifecycle of this plan as the priority areas reflect our collective ambition to make Scotland the best place in the world for BSL users to live, work, learn and visit.

I am committed not only to delivering this six-year plan but also ensuring that we can make a continued effort in improving the quality of life for BSL users, especially deaf and deafblind BSL users. My aim is to make long- term changes that will deliver positive impact by 2029 and beyond.

Jenny Gilruth, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills



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