September 17th 2015 was the day that the British Sign Language (BSL) (Scotland) Bill was passed as an Act in Scottish Parliament. This was a joyous moment for Deaf and Deafblind people living in Scotland. The passing of the Act places a duty on Scottish Ministers to promote the use and understanding of BSL by preparing and publishing BSL National Plans.

Scotland’s first ever BSL National Plan was published on Tuesday 22nd October 2017. It is a six-year plan, running from 2017 – 2023, and will be reviewed roughly mid-way through by means of a Progress Report. The legislation states that listed public bodies – such as colleges/universities, NHS health boards, Police Scotland and local councils – subsequently have to publish their own Local Authority plans by October 2018 in consultation with the local deaf community.

The BSL National Plan has a total of 70 actions across ten different long-term Goals. These actions have been set out to improve accessibility and inclusion within society for D/deaf and Deafblind individuals. The Progress Report may amend or add to these actions.

Alison Hendry, Participation Officer at Deaf Action in Edinburgh, has a remit to provide support to colleges and universities around Scotland. Deaf Action is part of a consortium funded by the Scottish Government to support the implementation of the BSL National Plan and subsequent Local Authority Plans. Colleges and universities will need to consult with D/deaf and Deafblind communities within their respective regions when preparing Local Authority Plans prior to publication in October 2018.

Alison is in discussion with College Development Network and Equality Challenge Unit to look at the feasibility of a workshop to be facilitated in early 2018, which will provide an opportunity for colleges and universities to meet and discuss the BSL National Plan and Local Authority Plans in more detail.

If you require more information, please contact Alison by email: Alison.Hendry@deafaction.org

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