Deaf Bill to be heard by MSPs

Mark Griffin MSP
Mark Griffin MSP

Central Scotland list MSP Mark Griffin’s British Sign Language (BSL) (Scotland) Bill has been formally introduced in the Scottish Parliament.

The Bill seeks to increase awareness of BSL and improve the services available for Scotland’s Deaf population, with 6,000 to 13,000 estimated to use BSL as their first or preferred language.

It has been widely supported within the Deaf community and received the support of 43 MSPs from all political parties to move it to Stage One proceedings.

The Bill would place a requirement on the Scottish Government to produce a national plan for BSL.

Relevant public authorities would also have to develop their own plans, highlighting what they will do to increase awareness of the language within their organisations and across Scotland.

The Bill received 1,192 responses in a public consultation, which is considerably higher than the traditional number of responses to Members Bills, which averages around 40.

Mark said: “I am delighted that my British Sign Language Bill has been formally introduced.

“BSL is the first language of many Deaf people in Scotland.

“It is the only language some have ever known, or ever will know, yet getting access to basic information in BSL can be incredibly difficult.

“Simple things that so many of us take for granted such as arranging a medical appointment or reporting a crime are incredibly difficult for those who communicate in BSL. This has to change.

“My Bill seeks to increase awareness of BSL throughout Scottish society, put pressure on the Scottish Government and relevant public authorities to develop action plans on improving access to information in BSL and work towards breaking down the barriers facing Scotland’s Deaf population on a daily basis.

“I look forward to working with the members and stakeholders, as they look closely at the proposals over the next few months.”