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Philip Gerrard: The new, long-awaited Edinburgh festival that will advance deaf culture

22 July 2022 (The Herald)

The Scottish Government wants Scotland to be “the best place for British Sign Language (BSL) users to live, work, learn and visit”.

Since the introduction of the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015, the everyday lives of Scottish deaf people have certainly improved, but there is still work to be done. Edinburgh is a world-renowned festival city, yet to date the access for deaf people to this cultural event has been patchy and unco-ordinated.

As a deaf BSL user, my overriding memory of the Fringe is one of feeling overwhelmed, but wanting to be part of it all. Deaf Action, where I have been CEO since 2017, wants to change this.

We have been a pioneering force at the forefront of the community for nearly 190 years and don’t do things by halves, so just making the festival season accessible with the add-on provision of captions and BSL/English interpreters didn’t feel enough.

Instead, we’ve added an extra dimension to this year’s season – the Edinburgh Deaf Festival, which takes place from 12-19 August 2022; a week of deaf culturally-specific events alongside an accessible festival season.


University of Strathclyde Education Scotland British Council Scotland The Scottish Government
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