New measures to promote and raise awareness of British Sign Language (BSL) came a step closer today. But improvement will require a commitment from public bodies to consult with BSL users, according to the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee’s report on the British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill.
The Bill, introduced by Mark Griffin MSP, requires the Scottish Government and public bodies to publish plans setting out how they will take action on BSL.
Committee Convener, Stewart Maxwell MSP, said:
“The Bill is clearly to be welcomed. It is an important stepping stone for BSL provision throughout Scotland and, we hope, will help to tackle what some witnesses described as a “postcode lottery service.”
“It is hoped the Bill will lead to better outcomes for BSL users which is why our report makes clear the need for effective consultation and engagement with BSL users. Our consideration of the Bill involved intensive discussions with the Deaf community and BSL users, including our highly successful Facebook page which now has over 2,000 members. There is clearly a very strong appetite among BSL users to have their say in improving public services.
“We have made a number of other recommendations that we believe will lead to a better Bill.”
Other recommendations within the report include:
- Consideration should be given to making more public bodies responsible for promoting BSL.
- The Bill’s proposed timetables for reporting on BSL plans should be simplified.
The Bill introduces a performance review, which would allow the Scottish Government to measure the progress being made with BSL plans. The Committee agreed with the approach of ‘naming and shaming’ those public bodies that perform poorly.
The Committee engaged directly with BSL users throughout its consideration of the Bill. The Committee set up a BSL Facebook group, which now has over 2,000 members, allowing BSL users to submit their views via video clip. As well as making key documents available in BSL, evidence sessions on the Bill were broadcast with live English/BSL interpretation.
The Committee also visited Windsor Park School and Sensory Service, in Falkirk, to meet deaf pupils and members of staff. In January 2015, the Committee held an open meeting at Deaf Action in Edinburgh.
More information about the Committee’s consideration of the Bill, and its Committee’s report, can be found on the webpages below: