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BSL National Advisory Group (English)

The BSL National Advisory Group (BSL NAG) 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.

The members of the BSL NAG are:

Co-Chairs – 

Sarah Davidson (Scottish Government Director General Local Government and Communities) and Debra Wherrett (Deafblind Representative) for 3 meetings, and Charlotte Addison for 3 meetings

First and preferred language BSL user representatives – 

Andrew Kay recently returned from working in the civil service in England to his native Scotland to champion BSL as a native language – a first language for many Deaf people

Brian McCann works as an equality and diversity training officer for a local authority, and is the father of five Deaf children who use BSL.

Charlotte Addison works at an Additional Supported Learning school in Glasgow. She comes from a Deaf family, has a Deaf husband, and three hearing children.

Debra Wherrett grew up using BSL, but as her vision deteriorated, she began using Hands on BSL. She teaches Deafblind Communication and Deafblind Awareness.

Leona Glennie has used BSL all her life, and is losing her sight due to Usher Syndrome. She works for a Deaf and Blind charity in Aberdeen.

Moira Ross grew up with a hearing family, is married to a Deaf BSL husband and has three boys, one of whom is Deaf. Moira is studying drama at university.

Natalie Greenall – has vast experience volunteering with Deaf children and young people with additional support needs. Natalie is a new mum to a Deaf boy.

Amy Dawson comes from a Deaf family with Deaf parents. She has been a BSL user from birth. She is passionate about improving services in education, particularly ensuring that that a Deaf child receives as much BSL support as possible throughout their school years. Amy has experience of meeting politicians so feels confident that she will be able to represent the views of young Deaf people in Scotland.

Abbie Steggles comes from a hearing family and is bilingual in BSL and English. She has been attending classes to improve her BSL which she really enjoys. She wants better BSL access in schools as this would help to break down the barriers that BSL users face on a daily basis. Abbie is very enthusiastic about ensuring that young Deaf people are included as much as possible.

Lewis Ross comes from a Deaf family with Deaf parents and two hearing brothers. He has been a BSL user from birth. He is passionate about helping BSL to be more widely recognised and that BSL users feel happy and comfortable using their language.

Hearing parent of a Deaf child (1)

Lesley Ann Martin is a hearing parent of a Deaf child who uses BSL and works for a local authority as a Pupil Support Assistant. Lesley has devoted 10 years of her time for a local Deaf children’s charity.

Public Body Representatives

Colin Spivey, Scottish Government Learning Directorate

Louise MacLennan, NHS National Services on behalf of the NHS Equality and Diversity Leads Network

Elaine Savory, NHS Ayrshire and Arran on behalf of the NHS Equality and Diversity Leads Network

John Urquhart, COSLA on behalf of the Scottish Councils Equality Network

Audrey Cameron, North Lanarkshire Council on behalf of the Scottish Councils Equality Network

Maggie Maxwell, Creative Scotland on behalf of the Non-Departmental Public Bodies Equality Forum

Halena Gauntlett, Scottish Funding Council, on behalf of the Non Departmental Public Bodies Equality Forum, and to provide a link with Higher Education/Further Education institutions

Stephanie Rose, Police Scotland, on behalf of the Justice Agencies Working Group on Interpretation and Translation

Secretariat: Hilary Third, Scottish Government Equality Unit

The recent and historic passage of the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015 means that accessibility for the British Sign Language community and Deaf people in Scotland must be provided by public bodies and, with time, more public services. In the initial stages, Scottish Ministers must publish a BSL National Plan saying how they will promote and support BSL. The British Sign Language National Advisory Group (BSL NAG) will advise Scottish Government on what should be in the National Plan.


National Advisory Group Meeting Plan

A work plan has been put together for the National Advisory Group meetings throughout 2016 and 2017 until the BSL National Plan is published. For more information on this meeting work plan, see below. The BSL version can be found on the next page, click here.

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BSL NAG Work Plan for 2016/17 meetings


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BSL NAG Work Plan for 2016/17 meetings

Information for the BSL Members of the National Advisory Group For NAG1 meeting on Monday 25 April 2016

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BSL National Advisory Group Information




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