Ashley Smith-Hammond

Scotland’s arts and cultural organisations are tasked with delivering seven key actions against the Scottish Government’s new BSL national Plan. Learn what your organisation will be responsible for delivering in our summary.

Scotland passed the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act in September 2015. The Act promised a national plan for British Sign Language (BSL) within two years, which would give guidance and place responsibilities on authorities on their responsibility to provide for BSL users.

national BSL plan

The British Sign Language (BSL): National Plan was published by the Scottish Government on 24 October 2017. Its has an ambitious goal, to make Scotland the best place in the world for BSL users to live, work and visit. The plan runs from 2017 – 2023 and the Scottish Government will produce a progress report in 2020.

There are 70 actions outlined in the new BSL national Plan. Scotland’s arts and cultural organisations are tasked with delivering seven of these.

"It aims to make Scotland the best place in the world for BSL users to live, work and visit."

The goal for these seven actions is that BSL users will have “full access to the cultural life of Scotland, and an equal opportunity to enjoy and contribute to culture and the arts, and are encouraged to share BSL and Deaf culture with the people of Scotland.”

actions for the cultural sector

In the words of the BSL National Plan, “by 2020, Scottish Ministers will:

  1. Enable BSL users to take part in culture and the arts as participants, audience members and professionals.
  2. Support professional pathways to enable BSL users to consider a career in culture and the arts.
  3. Increase information in BSL about culture and the arts on websites and at venues.
  4. Improve access to the historical environment, and cultural events, and performing arts and film for BSL users.
  5. Seek the views of BSL users to ensure that the Scottish Government’s new culture strategy organisations for Scotland recognises the value of BSL and Deaf culture, and the contribution it makes to the health, wealth and success of people and our communities.
  6. Train staff in the major tourist information centres about the Scottish Government’s nationally funded BSL online interpreting video relay service (VRS) called ‘contactSCOTLAND-BSL’ and how to help our D/deaf and Deafblind BSL visitors access the service. (This work will be delivered by VisitScotland.)
  7. Promote the use of the Scottish Government’s nationally funded BSL online interpreting video relay service (VRS) called ‘contactSCOTLAND-BSL’ on the VisitScotland website.”

This means that those organisations that are working to support BSL users, D/deaf audiences and artists will get a welcome boost. And those organisations that aren’t yet working on improving their access for Deaf or hearing impaired professionals and audiences will need to look at places their practice can improve.

If your organisation is ready to get started, come along to Culture Republic’s August 2018 event Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Scotland’s BSL Plan to organise your next steps.

Main image credit: BSL National Plan Launch by The Scottish Government (CC BY-NC 2.0)