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.

Health and Wellbeing

Under the law, patients who are BSL users are entitled to the same health and social care access as their hearing peers, in their first or preferred language.

NHSScotland is committed to providing high-quality healthcare services that are person-centred, safe and effective. Good communication is a vital component in delivering high-quality healthcare and in enabling equitable and inclusive access to services and health information.

NHSScotland have put in place an interpreting, communication support and translation national policy that enables service users to fully participate in their care, express their needs, feel understood and make informed decisions, improving the service users’ overall healthcare experience.

Our long-term goal:

BSL users will have access to the information and services they need to live active, healthy lives, and to make informed choices at every stage of their lives.

We will:


Develop health as a priority theme within this plan’s Implementation Advisory Group, to explore barriers around access and develop solutions to address them.


Ensure that co-design on the development and implementation of the National Care Service involves BSL users.


Work with our partners to implement and measure our core mental health standards. This will include a focus on ensuring information and services are accessible to all individuals, including those who use BSL.


In line with the Mental Health and Wellbeing Workforce Action Plan, we will improve equality, inclusion and diversity training for the mental health and wellbeing workforce, including to promote existing BSL training to the workforce.


Promote and support the learning of BSL as a second language for hard of hearing, deafened people and people at risk of a second sensory loss. People at risk of a secondary sensory loss should be better equipped with tools for them to communicate. Learning BSL as a second language provides an opportunity for this.


Capture the learning from projects such as Deafblind Scotland’s BSL Cafe Project, funded by the Scottish Government, that supports people who are at risk of a second sensory loss to acquire further communication skills by teaching them BSL.


Build on the work set out within the social isolation and loneliness strategy, Recovering our Connections 2023-26, to embed actions related to BSL users and link with existing work at a local and national level to address issues of social isolation and loneliness, including access to services and projects.



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