MSP for The Western Isles, Alasdair Allan, has today welcomed the unanimous passage of the British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill by the Scottish Parliament.
The Bill, introduced by Labour MSP Mark Griffin with co-operation from Minister for Languages Alasdair Allan MSP of the SNP, will require Scottish ministers to develop a national plan for BSL and place an obligation on public-sector bodies to prepare and publish their own plans. The aim is to increase awareness of BSL and its use in the delivery of services.
Speaking for the Scottish Government during the debate, Alasdair Allan said:
“I had the privilege of meeting a few of our deaf and deafblind visitors just before the debate. I know that many of them have been campaigning for a BSL bill for many years, and I recognise that this is a significant day for that community.
“My view is that, if we promote, protect, support and value British Sign Language and deaf culture, we will all benefit from the greater contribution that our deaf and deafblind citizens can and want to make to our communities, our country and our economy. From that there will be a contribution to our wider efforts to create a fairer Scotland.
“People’s experiences around the country are not all the same, of course. In that context, I particularly mention the needs of deaf people in remote and rural areas. I represent 13 islands and I know BSL users who find it difficult to access a conversation, let alone services, in their own language within a radius of many miles.
“We have made a good start, but it is clear that much more can be done across Scotland to remove the barriers that, in many cases, still prevent deaf and deafblind BSL users from maximising their potential and making their fullest contribution to daily and public life in Scotland. The bill sets us firmly on the right path to address that.”