The Scottish Government has issued a statement on the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015 and Scottish Signs:
“The British Sign Language (Scotland) Act was passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament in September 2015. The Parliament carried out a lengthy consultation, and considered a vast amount of evidence, much of it provided in BSL.
The Act has the potential to have a very positive impact on the lives of people in Scotland whose first or preferred language is BSL. We are working in partnership with BSL users in Scotland to develop our first BSL National Plan. We will put this out for consultation in March 2017.
The BSL (Scotland) Act provides an opportunity to appreciate and celebrate regional variations, including Scottish signs. We want this variation to flourish. The more that BSL is promoted and celebrated in Scotland, the more exposure it will receive, in all its variations. And as this legislation is only Scottish legislation it follows that all of Scotland’s regional variations will be included and will be valued.
The BSL (Scotland) Act 2015 as passed by the Scottish Parliament allows for the appreciation of Scottish signs, and the Scottish Government considers the legislation will enable Scottish signs to be preserved and nurtured”.
The British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015
The BSL (Scotland) Act 2015 was passed in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 17th September 2015 and received Royal Assent from the Queen on 22nd October 2015. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2015/11/contents/enacted
The BSL (Scotland) Act puts a duty on Scottish Ministers to promote the use and understanding of British Sign Language (BSL) and requires Scottish Ministers to prepare and publish BSL national plans. The first national plan must be published by 22nd October 2017.
A draft of the national plan will be published in BSL and in English for consultation and this must be accessible to BSL users and those who represent them, including Deafblind people who use BSL. The final version of the national plan which will also be published in BSL and in English must and take into account the views gathered through the consultation.
Scottish Ministers must also publish national progress reports. The progress report is to include measures taken and outcomes achieved; examples of best practice, and examples, if there are any, of poor performance.
The first progress report must go to the Scottish Parliament within the 3 years from the date when the first National Plan is published (so by October 2020) and will report on progress across the Scottish public sector. This report will also be published in BSL and in English.
The references made to BSL in the Act refer to both the visual form of British Sign Language and to the tactile form of British Sign Language used and understood by some Deafblind people.
The BSL National Plan
The British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015 calls for Scottish Ministers to publish the first BSL National Plan by 22nd October 2017. The National Plan will cover most national public bodies. National plans have to be published every six years.
The BSL National Plan will reflect the views/needs of the BSL Community in Scotland and what the Scottish Government and national public bodies can realistically deliver. It will also indicate what other public bodies who have to publish their own plans should include. The national plan will be published in BSL and in English.
After the first National Plan has been published in October 2017, other public bodies such as local councils, health boards and other public bodies, and universities and colleges – will have to publish their “authority” plans by October 2018. These plans will have to include the views of people whose first or preferred language is BSL in their own areas. These plans should follow the lead taken by the Scottish Government on the National Plan and use a similar template.
The Deaf Sector Partnership has a role in supporting these public bodies to consult with local BSL users on their draft plans. Local plans will all be published in BSL and in English.
The BSL National Advisory Group – membership and co-chairs
After the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015 was passed, Scottish Ministers decided to set up a BSL National Advisory Group to help develop the National Plan. There is a majority of people whose first or preferred language is BSL on the National Advisory Group, so that the National Plan should make a real difference to their lives.
The BSL National Advisory Group is known by the shortened term “NAG”.
The BSL National Advisory Group is made up of ten (10) Deaf people whose first or preferred language is BSL, one (1) Hearing parent of a Deaf child, whose first or preferred language is BSL, one (1) Scottish Government representative and nine (9) Public Body representatives who have to implement the BSL (Scotland) Act.
The BSL representatives on the National Advisory Group all went through an application process in the same way that people do when they apply for a job. They submitted an application which went through a shortlisting process and then people were invited to an interview. Those who scored best were offered a place on the NAG. The young people who are BSL representatives were elected to represent the young people on the Youth NAG and in the wider community. The Youth NAG is a group of young people aged 18 years and younger who are interested in representing other young people, whose first or preferred language is BSL, on the NAG in the future.
The BSL National Advisory Group is co-chaired by the Scottish Government and one of the BSL representatives.
For more information about the BSL National Advisory Group members, click here.