Promoting the use of British Sign Language (BSL) is the focus of a new Bill being considered by the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee.
View a BSL video about the call for views:
Introduced by Mark Griffin MSP, the Bill aims to increase the profile of the language and its use in the delivery of services. The Bill would require the Scottish Ministers and some public bodies to prepare and publish BSL plans. There is also a requirement for a Minister to be designated with lead responsibility for BSL.
The Committee wants to hear your views about whether this will promote the use of BSL throughout Scotland.
Committee Convener, Stewart Maxwell MSP said:
“The Bill clearly aims to promote the use of BSL to a much wider degree than it is currently used. However, we note that the Bill will not, in itself, close any existing service gaps.
“We want to hear from BSL users about the difference that this Bill could make in their lives and whether the measures it contains go far enough. According to the 2011 census there are more than 12,000 BSL users in the Scottish population. We want to find out their views on the impact of the Bill.”
The Committee’s call for evidence, which has been translated into BSL along with the Bill and accompanying documents, contains a series of questions including:
- Do you think we need to change the law to promote the use of BSL and, if so, why?
- It is hoped the Bill will, in practice, lead public authorities to increase the use they make of BSL and the extent to which they are in a position to respond to demand for services in BSL. How realistic do you think this aim is and to what extent do you believe the Bill can achieve this objective?
- The Bill is solely about the use of BSL. Could there be unintended consequences for other languages or forms of communication used by the deaf community?
The British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill was introduced by Mark Griffin MSP in October 2014. According to the policy documents it “aims to promote the use of British Sign Language (BSL), principally by requiring BSL plans to be prepared and published by the Scottish Ministers and listed public authorities.”
More information about the Committee’s consideration of the Bill, including BSL video versions of the call for evidence and other documents relating to the Bill can be found on the Committee’s website:
BSL interpreting will be available at all meetings when the Committee considers the Bill.