Latest News

A selection of language-related news. Does not claim to be comprehensive or represent the views of SCILT.


Children learn sign language to support classmate

28 June 2022 (BBC)

Primary 2 pupils at Omagh Integrated Primary School have learned sign language this year.

They were keen to learn the new skill to support their classmate Callum.

They have also inspired their local neighbourhood police and other emergency services to learn the new skill.


Sign language 999 BSL service launched for deaf people

18 June 2022 (BBC)

A new service has launched to allow people to make 999 calls using British Sign Language (BSL) for the first time.

The new service, 999 BSL, will allow deaf people to make emergency calls using an app or website, connecting callers with a BSL interpreter.

It is free to use and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Ofcom announced telephone and broadband companies must carry the service last June, estimating it would save two lives a year.

The system, which launched on Friday, is the first time a 999 emergency service will be available in British Sign Language, though a similar process exists for the NHS 111 number.

People who use the service will be put through to a BSL interpreter, who will then relay the conversation to a 999 operator.


Rose Ayling-Ellis to sign CBeebies Bedtime Story

7 May 2022 (BBC)

Actress and Strictly Come Dancing champion Rose Ayling-Ellis is to become the first celebrity to sign a CBeebies bedtime story this Sunday.

Ayling-Ellis, 27, who has been deaf since birth, will tell the tale Can Bears Ski? in British Sign Language (BSL), to mark Deaf Awareness Week.

The story of a young bear draws on the author's own experience to show how it feels to be deaf in a hearing world.

Ayling-Ellis said she hoped it would inspire children to learn to sign.


BSL as an L3 - register now

28 April 2022 (SCILT / Garvel Deaf Centre)

SCILT, in collaboration with Garvel Deaf Centre in Gourock, Inverclyde will be offering online British Sign Language (BSL) classes to support L3 in primary schools in the 2022-23 school session. 

Applications are now open for schools to register their interest in the ‘BSL as an L3’ programme. The weekly lessons will be suitable for pupils in P5-P7 and are free of charge. In addition to the live lessons, supplementary resources such as video clips will be provided on Teams to support asynchronous learning opportunities.

The block of online classes will:

  • begin on Thursday 8 September
  • run for 10 weeks, with a two-week break in October
  • take place live on Glow Teams 
  • be 45 minutes in length
  • be delivered by an experienced deaf tutor, supported by a BSL interpreter
  • raise deaf awareness
  • promote inclusion and diversity

Schools selected to take part in the programme must attend an information session on Tuesday 7 June at 3.30pm on Teams.

Register your interest by Monday 16 May 2022 via the link below. For more information please contact SCILT. 


British Sign Language Bill set to clear final stage before becoming law

27 April 2022 (Mirage News)

The British Sign Language Bill, a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Rosie Cooper MP last year and backed by the government, will receive its third reading in the House of Lords today before it passes into law following Royal Assent.

The BSL Act will recognise BSL as a language of England, Wales and Scotland in its own right. It is also supported by a duty on the Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to regularly report on what each relevant government department has done to promote or facilitate the use of British Sign Language in its communications with the public.


BSL: Newsround launches signed weekday bulletins

19 April 2022 (BBC)

Newsround's weekday bulletin is now accessible for people who use British Sign Language (BSL).

The programme will be fully signed, with an in-vision interpreter, each weekday starting from Tuesday 19 April.

It will be available to watch on the Newsround website from lunchtime every Monday to Friday, and will be remain online to watch at a time that suits you or your school.


House of Lords marks first live use of sign language interpretation

25 March 2022 (Irish News)

The House of Lords has seen the first live use of British Sign Language interpretation as peers backed a Bill giving the language legal recognition across Britain.

Lord McFall of Alcluith, the Speaker in the House of Lords, marked this moment for BSL interpretation in the upper chamber, and also used the BSL sign for ‘thank you’ in the chamber.

Peers also heard that the Government has started drawing up plans for a GCSE in the language, with more likely to be revealed about the proposals later this year.

Before peers started the second reading debate of the British Sign Language Bill, which would give BSL legal recognition in England, Wales and Scotland, Lord McFall said: “I would like to point out that a British Sign Language interpretation of proceedings is available to watch on

“I am delighted to mark this first occasion of the live use of BSL interpretation in the House of Lords.”


Birmingham teen sign language teacher stars in animated class

15 March 2022 (BBC)

A teenager who helped thousands of people learn British Sign Language (BSL) during the first Covid-19 lockdown is being turned into an animated character in new lessons.

Tyrese Dibba, who has Charge Syndrome, created a series of BSL videos which were watched by more than 80,000 people.

His character will be the head teacher of charity Sense's Sign School.

Tyrese said he loved to be able to continue his work.

For his work during the pandemic, Tyrese received a Points of Light award from the prime minister and the Stephen Sutton Inspiration Award at the Pride of Birmingham Awards 2021.

"Deaf people shouldn't be excluded," he said.

"You should be able to chat to everyone, regardless of disability."


BA Performance in British Sign Language and English

25 January 2022 (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland)

If you identify as D/deaf or hard of hearing, and want to perform or create work on stage and screen, the BA Performance in British Sign Language and English course could be for you. The undergraduate degree is designed around the learning and teaching needs of deaf performers and is the only course of its kind in Europe. The programme has been developed in association with Solar Bear Theatre Company with input from a range of theatre, education and deaf professionals. The working languages of the programme are British Sign Language (BSL) and spoken English. 

The programme only recruits for students every 3 years and the next cohort is due to start in September 2022. Visit the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland website to find out more and apply by 31 January 2022. You can also watch videos of recent graduates, Amy and Bea, sharing their experiences of the programme.


Strictly winner Rose Ayling-Ellis calls for official recognition of British Sign Language

11 January 2022 (Yahoo News)

Strictly Come Dancing winner Rose Ayling-Ellis has called for British Sign Language (BSL) to be given "official" status in the UK.

The EastEnders actor, who won the series with partner Giovanni Pernice and was the dance show’s first deaf contestant, has said sign language is not currently recognised as an official language which presents a “big problem” for the deaf community.

According to the British Deaf Associal BSL was recognised as an “official” language by the UK Government on 18th March 2003, but it does not yet have any legal status unlike the Welsh, Gaelic and Cornish languages which do have legal protection.

Scotland is the only country in the UK to have given legal recognition to sign language.


I perform songs in sign language alongside famous artists

2 January 2022 (The Metro)

Looking out at thousands of people, I took a deep breath.

I was centre-stage at Ronan Keating’s 1999 Wembley concert at the age of 16, and so vulnerable.

Even though the bright spotlight was on me, I could read each and every face in the audience while they waited in anticipation. Suddenly, I saw them clapping, cheering, talking and singing but I couldn’t hear a thing because I’m deaf.

My eyes glanced to the foot of the stage at the interpreter, who cued me in when the music started. I unleashed all my frustrations, passion and my soul into a powerful visual signed performance of When You Say Nothing At All.


'My friends are learning to sign with me'

17 December 2021 (BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing's Rose Ayling-Ellis has helped shine the spotlight on sign language users like Phoebe.

The first-year pupil at a school in Gourock, Inverclyde, is profoundly deaf and, like Rose, is learning to dance.

Phoebe's teacher says Strictly has increased interest in the school's deaf unit and that Rose has been a great deaf role model.

The signing club also involves Phoebe's friends, who have come along to learn British Sign Language (BSL) so they can all chat together.


SNP conference: British Sign Language qualification needed

27 November 2021 (The National)

A qualification for British Sign Language (BSL) should be introduced into the Scottish curriculum, SNP delegates agreed.

More children should be taught BSL in primary and secondary schools as well as promoting the job as a BSL interpreter as a career pathway could help plug the current gaps.

Brian Ferguson, South Lanarkshire councillor, was the first deaf BSL user elected to a council in Scotland.

He told delegates, through BSL, that despite there being an estimated 6000 deaf BSL users in Scotland who need interpreting services, there are only around 50 to 60 interpreters.

This means there is one interpreter for every 109 deaf BSL users.


Leading awarding organisation announces British Sign Language for beginners’ course

11 October 2021 (FE News)

Signature (@SignatureDeaf) the UK’s leading awarding organisation in deaf communication qualifications have today announced a new online course – British Sign Language (BSL) for beginners.

BSL for beginners is a comprehensive online course developed alongside language experts and Deaf teachers to provide communication skills and knowledge. Signature have drawn on 40 years of experience enabling hundreds of thousands of learners to complete a British Sign Language qualification.

The 2-hour immersive learning course introduces you to deaf people who share their personal experiences, and teach BSL through a range of informal clips, receptive practice, short quizzes, and vocabulary.


Stranded British teenager opens up world of Disney to deaf people

25 September 2021 (The Times)

Stranded thousands of miles from her school during lockdown, Mariella Satow decided to learn sign language when her GCSEs were cancelled.

Not satisfied with that challenge, she used money from dog walking to create a signing app that allows deaf children to enjoy Disney films.

Parents say it has transformed their children’s lives and Mariella, 17, is hoping to see her invention take off around the world. She is working on a similar product for Netflix, with several approaches from Silicon Valley start-ups.

(Note - subscription required to access full article)


Sign language could be taught to Glasgow's councillors

22 September 2021 (Glasgow Times)

British Sign Language (BSL) classes should be available to members of Glasgow City Council according to councillors who are campaigning to support those with hearing impairments.

The importance of sign language has been in the spotlight over the past year, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon having a BSL interpreter for all her briefings during the Covid pandemic.

As it stands there are just 50 BSL interpreters for the whole of Scotland, and while the council is committed to providing training for workers in key sectors, it was not clear if councillors could be provided with help learning to sign.

Earlier this week members of the general purposes committee asked if councillors and council staff could have the opportunity to attend a BSL class to help them communicate more effectively with their constituents. 


Evening language courses at Dundee

17 September 2021 (University of Dundee)

Registration for the following year-long courses at the University of Dundee is now open until 27 September 2021:

  • French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish, and British Sign Language (BSL).

For more information, please visit:

To register please go to:

If you have any queries, please contact: Veronique Malcolm :

Coronation Street's Gemma wows fans with her impressive use of sign language

30 July 2021 (Daily Star)

Corrie fans on Twitter were impressed with actress Dolly-Rose Campbell, who plays Gemma Winter on the soap, for being able to learn British Sign Language for her role during a sensitive storyline on deafness.


Thirty-five jobs at Loganair saved from the axe after upskilling initiative

14 June 2021 (Glasgow Times)

Jobs at a Scottish airline have been saved from the axe thanks to a new training course.

Thirty-five cabin crew members at Loganair, who are based at Glasgow Airport, were at risk of redundancy. Through Unite the union and Scottish Union Learning, the stewards negotiated with the company to use the Covid Response Fund to mitigate compulsory redundancies and provide them with opportunities to upskill. This included courses on British Sign Language, Autism Awareness and Spanish delivered by City of Glasgow College.

Loganair have now signed no compulsory redundancy agreements which has given workers job security.


BSL as an L3 - register now

4 June 2021 (SCILT / Garvel Deaf Centre)

SCILT has been working, in collaboration with Garvel Deaf Centre in Gourock, Inverclyde to develop a series of online British Sign Language (BSL) classes to support L3 in primary schools. We are delighted that registration is now open for schools to register their interest in the ‘BSL as an L3’ programme. The weekly lessons will be suitable for pupils in P5-P7 and are free of charge. In addition to the live lessons, supplementary resources such as video clips will be provided on Teams to support asynchronous learning opportunities.

The block of online classes will:

  • begin in early September
  • take place live on MS Teams 
  • be 45 minutes in length, once a week, for 10 weeks
  • be delivered by an experienced deaf tutor, supported by a BSL interpreter
  • raise deaf awareness
  • promote inclusion and diversity

Register your interest by 21 June 2021 via the link below. For more information please contact SCILT. To hear of more opportunities from Scotland’s National Centre for Languages please subscribe to our weekly bulletin -


Related Files

SNP's Karen Adam makes history as first MSP to take oath in sign language

13 May 2021 (The Herald)

Karen Adam MSP has made history as the first parliamentarian to take the oath in British Sign Language (BSL).

The SNP politician won the Banffshire and Buchan Coast seat in the North East of Scotland in last week's Scottish Parliament election with 14,920 votes. 

She was previously a councillor in the Mid-Formartine ward of Aberdeenshire where she was elected in 2017 and is a passionate advocate for BSL.

[..] In all, the Scottish Parliament will hear 23 oaths and affirmations in different dialects and languages other than English.


Scotland's main political parties back Fife girl's call for free BSL tuition

4 May 2021 (Planet Radio)

We can reveal every main political party in Scotland is backing a Fife girl's campaign for free sign language tuition.

Niamdh Braid's calls for extra funding to allow every deaf child to get support from the age of 5 have been heard.

The 12-year-old, who taught herself BSL, hopes it'll ensure no other youngster goes without.

I'm really excited that my campaign's been taken on as it means deaf children have the opportunity to learn BSL and it makes communication a lot easier for them," she said.

The Glenrothes schoolgirl started her push for change two years ago, shortly after her rendition of Lewis Capaldi's Someone You Loved caught the popstar's attention.

Niamdh later met with the singer at an event backstage, and performed a sign language duet alongside him.

The SNP pledged to provide additional funding for councils to roll out free tuition in its manifesto, with Scottish Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Greens following suit.

Mum Sam believes it's a vital step forward for many families.



25 March 2021 (IberoDocs)

IberoDocs, Scotland's Ibero-American Documentary Film Festival, will be running for the first time online in the entire UK and Ireland from the 19 April to 2 May. The 2 week-long event boasts a programme of 20 films: all are Scottish premieres, 13 are UK premieres, three international premieres and one world premiere.

The Festival, which has consistently celebrated equality, diversity and accessibility as its core values, will apply them even further when bringing this years’ festival to life since all the feature-length films in the main programme will include subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing and the opening film will also have audio description available.

The pandemic has brought on several challenges for the festival, but this year IberoDocs is reaching a wider geographical area by hosting the festival online, and some of the films will be available to watch in 22 Ibero-American countries including Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, Peru and Brazil.

In addition to the film programme, the festival will offer a series of complementary activities such as a virtual exhibition, Q&As with filmmakers and artists - BSL interpreted - and a masterclass in collaboration with Scottish Documentary by Lupe Perez Diaz, winner of new waves best director at the Seville Film Festival 2020 with her film Never Look Back.

Visit the website for more information.


Inspirational man from Grantham raises awareness for hearing loss and sign language

27 February 2021 (Grantham Journal)

A man who is profoundly deaf has been using social media to raise awareness of hearing loss and sign language.

Paul Woolmer, from Grantham, has been profoundly deaf since birth, and recently sparked awareness of British Sign Language (BSL) in the local community when he posted a video of himself signing the alphabet in the Grantham and Rural Areas Covid-19 Effort (GRACE) Facebook group.

The video received over 200 likes in less than 48 hours, with many commenters expressing their interest in learning more.


Multilingual Debate 2021

25 February 2021 (Heriot-Watt University)

Heriot-Watt University's Multilingual Debate is an annual event that showcases the interpreting skills of undergraduate students on our Languages (Interpreting and Translating) degree programme, as well as the developing professional skills of postgraduate students on our MSc Interpreting and Translating programmes.

The event takes the form of a formal debate with two multilingual teams arguing for and against a motion of topical interest in a range of languages. The teams deliver their views in their various native languages (French, German, Spanish, English, Arabic, Chinese, British Sign Language (BSL)).

The Multilingual Debates 2021 will take place online via Zoom on Wednesday 24 March and Friday 26 March. 

Visit the Heriot-Watt Multilingual Debate webpage for more information and to register for the free event.


ProSign - New resource website for professionals involved in sign language teaching and assessment

11 February 2021 (ECML)

Teachers, teacher educators, curriculum developers, and professionals involved in sign language teaching and assessment will find this new open-access resource website a useful tool.

The resources have been developed in a bottom-up process involving deaf experts and experienced sign language teachers.

Find out more on the ECML website.


AR sign language book for children leads UK’s immersive tech boom

1 February 2021 (Design Week)

The first Augmented Reality (AR) British Sign Language (BSL) book for children and a virtual stage-building platform have joined the government’s tech innovation scheme Digital Catapult.


BSL:  New case study alert!

23 October 2020 (SCILT)

SCILT is delighted to announce the publication of its new case study on engaging parents with languages. This study, in conjunction with Education Scotland, highlights how Moorfoot Primary and Garvel Deaf Centre in Gourock support parents of deaf and hearing children with learning BSL. It provides insightful information on how BSL features greatly within the school, in addition to the other languages taught. Parents, pupils and staff share their experience of using and learning BSL and emphasise the value, significance and importance of all language learning and the impact it can have locally and beyond.


'Visual poetry': taking physical languages beyond the Deaf community

10 May 2020 (The Guardian)

Addressing the camera, Ryan Pendley’s arms swipe the air, his hands fly with ferocity and pent-up frustration, his fingers crawl up his neck and clasp over his mouth. The subtitle explains, “like struggling to breathe”, but you hardly need the translation. What we’re watching looks like sign language, mime and dance rolled into one. It’s actually visual vernacular, or VV, an art form little known beyond the Deaf community (Deaf, with a capital D, refers to a distinctive culture as opposed to a solely audiological condition). And it’s part of a new film Here/Not Here by director Bim Ajadi, that finds connections between three seemingly disparate physical languages: krump dance, football and British Sign Language (BSL).


Thousands sign up for Birmingham teen's BSL lessons

6 May 2020 (BBC)

A 15-year-old has created a series of videos teaching British Sign Language (BSL) during lockdown.

Tyrese Dibba, who has Charge Syndrome, and is deaf and partially sighted, released the videos with charity Sense in a bid to tackle isolation among people with disabilities.

The Birmingham student said more people learning BSL would "help the deaf community feel part of wider society".

More than 7,000 people have signed up for the free classes.


How to homeschool your kids with free apps and videos

24 March 2020 (STV)

As schools close due to coronavirus, here's some handy resources for educating children at home.

[..] Natasha and Kelly-Ann will host British Sign Language workshops every day from 1pm live on Facebook and YouTube. Search for Natasha Lamb.


Should all children learn sign language?

7 March 2020 (BBC)

A teenager and her brother are leading a campaign to make sign language part of the school curriculum.

Doctors said Christian would never be able to communicate because of brain damage sustained at birth. But his sister, Jade, learned sign language just so she could teach him. Now they have a large following on social media, where they sign along to popular songs to teach others.

Jade also started a petition to make sign language lessons a part of the primary school curriculum - she has had over 100,000 signatures.

Some schools, like the James Wolfe Schools in east London already teach sign language, but would it be possible to roll out on a nationwide scale?


British Sign Language survey

21 February 2020 (Education Scotland)

Education Scotland is working with partners to develop information and advice about how parents who use BSL can get further involved in their child's learning. 

The online consultation is available in English and British Sign Language and is open until Tuesday 31 March.


Call for all schools to teach sign language 'to make world more inclusive'

16 February 2020 (Sky News)

Nearly 100,000 people have signed a petition set up by an 18-year-old calling for all schools to teach basic sign language.

Jade Kilduff, 18, launched the campaign after seeing how sign language transformed her younger brother's life. Christian, four, has brain damage and cerebral palsy and his family were told he would never be able to communicate, so Jade spent two years teaching him sign language.

"Christian communicates by using sign language and a lot of people when talking to Christian would have to talk through me," Jade told Sky News.

"And I thought it was unfair that he could only communicate to me and a few of our family members and I thought if everybody just knew a little bit of sign then it would make the world more inclusive."


Multilingual Debate 2020

21 January 2020 (Heriot-Watt University)

Heriot-Watt University's Multilingual Debate is an annual event that showcases the interpreting skills of undergraduate and postgraduate students. The event takes the form of a formal debate with two multilingual teams arguing for and against a motion of topical interest in a range of languages. The teams deliver their views in their various native languages (French, German, Spanish, English, Arabic, Chinese, British Sign Language (BSL)).

The audience is mainly made up of pupils coming from Scottish and English secondary schools, along with university undergraduate students considering entering the interpreting profession, as well as government and local authority representatives, The audience participates by listening to the arguments, putting questions to the speakers in the languages represented and voting on the motion.

The Multilingual Debate 2020 will take place on Wednesday 25 March at Heriot-Watt University's Edinburgh campus. Two sessions are available and bookings are now being taken. Schools can book up to 15 tickets free of charge.

Visit the website for more information.


Prince William impresses by using sign language at investiture ceremony

14 January 2020 (Hello magazine)

Prince William is a man of many talents! The royal impressed onlookers at a Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony on Tuesday by congratulating one of the guests using British Sign Language. William could be seen smiling at TV veteran Alex Duguid as he signed "Congratulations, Alex," with Alex replying, "Thank you." The thoughtful gesture no doubt meant a great deal to Alex, who was bestowed with an MBE for his services to deaf people and to British Sign Language education.

Watch the presentation video.


SEND: Why your school should sign up to BSL

3 January 2020 (TES)

How can you make inclusion a key part of your curriculum? One mainstream primary in London has taken the radical step of including British Sign Language – so that every child learns to use it. Headteacher Dani Lang and deaf instructor Tina Kemp explain how it’s benefited deaf and hearing pupils alike

It’s Tuesday morning and a Year 5 class are doing their daily maths lesson. A child looks confused and puts her hand up, but before the teacher can come over, the boy next to her puts his pencil down and signs “Can I help?”

The girl smiles back at him and signs that she can’t work out the answer and points to the question in her maths book. His quick, nimble fingers sign back to help her overcome her confusion about place value, and then they both pick up their pencils and continue with their work.

All this, without a single audible word uttered. This fluent interaction in British Sign Language (BSL) is common at Brimsdown Primary School in Enfield. We are a mainstream primary in North London with a hearing impairment resource base (HIRBiE). This is not an intervention tool, it’s a teaching tool. HIRBiE runs staff and family signing lessons during the day and after school, and teaches BSL to all children from Nursery to Year 6 in class time.

It works for us and we firmly believe it could – and should – work for you, too.

Admittedly, it has taken us some time to get to this point: HIRBiE has been operating for 13 years in the school but its full integration into the school day has been going on only for the past four years.

HIRBiE was set up because there were (and still are) a number of deaf children and staff at the school, and the leadership firmly believed that every child deserved the right to be treated equally and to receive the same quality of education. However, leaders also felt there was a need to bridge the gap between hearing and deaf people and so took the decision to make BSL a significant part of our school curriculum.

(Note - subscription required to access full article).


DfE wants British sign language GCSE ‘as soon as possible’

28 October 2019 (Schools Week)

Applies to England.

Ministers are aiming to introduce a British sign language GCSE “as soon as possible” – and have pledged to consult on draft content next year.

Nick Gibb, the schools minister, has confirmed Department for Education officials are now “working with subject experts to develop draft subject content” for the GCSE.

The government relaxed its position on the creation of a BSL GCSE in 2018 following threats of a legal challenge by the family of a 12-year-old deaf pupil.

Last May, Gibb said the government was “open to considering” a BSL GCSE “for possible introduction in the longer term”, but insisted there were no plans to do so until after the next election, at that point scheduled for 2022, “to allow schools a period of stability”.

But in August last year, Gibb said the government could make “an exception” to its moratorium on new qualifications.

Now, with a general election expected in the coming months, Gibb has given the strongest signal yet that the new qualification could become a reality.


Google sign language AI turns hand gestures into speech

20 August 2019 (BBC)

Google says it has made it possible for a smartphone to interpret and "read aloud" sign language.

The tech firm has not made an app of its own but has published algorithms which it hopes developers will use to make their own apps.

Until now, this type of software has only worked on PCs.

Campaigners from the hearing-impaired community have welcomed the move, but say the tech might struggle to fully grasp some conversations.


Petition to make BSL first language for deaf children in Wales

5 October 2018 (BBC)

A petition for British Sign Language (BSL) to be recognised as the first language of many deaf children in Wales has been submitted.

Deffo! Cymru, a forum for young deaf people in Wales, wants the Welsh Government to widen access to education and services in BSL.

The petition gathered 1,162 signatures and the National Assembly's petitions committee has recommended changes.

The committee's report will now be considered by the Welsh Government.

One of the report's recommendations is the development of a national charter for the delivery of services, including education, to deaf children, young people and their families.


Scottish Parliament draft BSL plan

19 September 2018 (Scottish Parliament)

The Scottish Parliament is looking for feedback on its British Sign Language plan. Contributions invited by 28 September 2018.

Visit the website for more information and to submit your feedback.


Theatre play for schools - The Arrival

13 September 2018 (Education Scotland)

A new theatre play, The Arrival, will be touring Scotland from 26 September to 26 October 2018.

The story is about a man that travels to a new land in search of a future for his family.

The play and classroom activities are targeted at S1-S2 pupils. The aim is to engage the students in the world of The Arrival throughout the day, setting up playful interventions, happenings and surprises that create the sense of an event, building towards a performance of the play after lunch.

The key fact is that the play is accessible to deaf, hearing and people who have English as a second/other language.

See the trailer and visit the website for more information and to book.


Deaf Science Club

20 August 2018 (Glasgow Science Centre)

Due to popular demand, Glasgow Science Centre is running a second Deaf Science Club starting on Saturday 8 September 2018. 

The fortnightly science club has been created for Deaf, BSL users and those hard of hearing.

Budding scientists aged 6–14 years old can explore the Universe in the Planetarium, see a live science show full of spectacular demonstrations and get hands-on in workshops.


Deaf boy’s campaign for new GCSE in sign language takes step forward

2 August 2018 (ITV)

A GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL) could be introduced in this parliament after the government backed down on a decision to delay it.

Deaf schoolboy Daniel Jillings, 12, is campaigning for the new exam in time for his GCSEs, and his family launched a legal challenge to get one instated as quickly as possible.

The Department for Education had previously said no new GCSEs would be introduced in this parliament, but following submissions from the family’s lawyers it said it may consider making an “exception”.

Daniel’s family’s lawyers argue the lack of a GCSE in BSL may be “discriminatory and unlawful”.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said on Wednesday: “We will consider any proposals put forward for a GCSE in British Sign Language.

“As we have made clear previously, any new GCSE would need to meet the rigorous standards set by both the Department and Ofqual.

“If these expectations are met and a British Sign Language GCSE is ready to be introduced, we will then consider whether to make an exception to our general rule that there should be no new GCSEs in this parliament.”


Family to challenge lack of GCSE in sign language

6 July 2018 (TES)

A 12-year-old deaf boy is at the heart of a planned legal battle to challenge the government’s "discriminatory" decision to delay the introduction of a GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL).

Daniel Jillings, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, uses BSL as his first language and is concerned that there will be no qualification in place related to signing when he takes his exams in a few years’ time.


'No barriers to stop you' - deaf referee aims to inspire [video]

27 May 2018 (BBC )

Category six referee Jason Taylor will become the Scottish Football Association’s first representative at the Deaf Champions League finals, which takes place in Milan from 28 May – 2 June.

Having started refereeing in 2005, Jason hopes to inspire other deaf people to "realise there are no barriers to stop you from doing what you want to do".

From Dunfermline, he says his refereeing idol is Hugh Dallas.


Ground-breaking work on sign languages and the CEFR

3 May 2018 (ECML)

Just six years ago there were no references to sign languages in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

With support from the European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe (ECML), today we celebrate the existence of the ground-breaking “Sign Languages and the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Common Reference Level Descriptors” (2016), a result of the ECML ProSign1 project. 

One of the strengths of the ProSign descriptors is that they are not language specific, because they focus on communication rather than linguistic competencies. They have been developed to support sign language teachers, sign language learners, academics, policy makers, and others who are concerned with quality sign language learning, teaching and assessment.


BSL event at the Scottish Parliament

27 April 2018 (Scottish Government)

To help us prepare our British Sign Language Plan, we will be holding an event at the Scottish Parliament building to gather the views of BSL users. Please come along!

The event will be on the afternoon of Friday 18 May and the morning of Saturday 19 May.

Tours of the Scottish Parliament debating chamber and garden lobby will be available in BSL on both days.

Visit the website for more information and to book.


Launch a British Sign Language GCSE, MPs urge

6 March 2018 (BBC News)

British Sign Language should be turned into a GCSE that is taught in schools, MPs were told. The appeal came as a petition calling for British Sign Language to be made part of the national curriculum attracted more than 32,500 signatures. It also follows the success of Oscar winning film The Silent Child, starring profoundly deaf Maisie Sly, aged six.


Oscars 2018: Ex-Hollyoaks star uses sign language in acceptance speech

5 March 2018 (BBC)

A film starring a six-year-old deaf British girl and made by two former Hollyoaks stars has won an Oscar.

The Silent Child, which tells the story of a girl who struggles to communicate, was named best live action short film.

It stars Maisie Sly, aged six, from Swindon, and Rachel Shenton, who played Mitzeee Minniver in the Channel 4 soap.

Shenton also wrote it and used sign language in her acceptance speech. It was directed by Chris Overton - AKA Hollyoaks cage fighter Liam McAllister.

"I made a promise to our six-year-old lead actress that I would sign this speech," Shenton said while accepting the statuette at Sunday's ceremony in Hollywood.


Children to learn sign language through Welsh

31 January 2018 (BBC)

Applies to Wales

A new project has been launched which aims to teach sign language to young children through the medium of Welsh. 

The scheme, run by Mudiad Meithrin and funded by Bangor University, is the first to teach British Sign Language (BSL) through Welsh rather than English.

It will introduce one word per week in Welsh and BSL which will be shown to as many as 12,500 children under four.


Glasgow factory workers learn sign language to communicate with deaf colleagues

29 November 2017 (Evening Times)

A group of city factory workers have been learning sign language to allow them to communicate with their deaf colleagues.

Window factory staff at RSBi, the manufacturing arm of City Building, are being taught British Sign Language as part of a new national scheme to boost opportunities for deaf people.

The Scottish Government scheme, the first of its kind, aims to make Scotland the most inclusive place for BSL users to work, live and visit.

Royal Strathclyde Blind Industry got involved by enlisting the help of non-hearing BSL approved employee Mark McGowan to teach classes at its window factory in Queenslie.

The lessons have been running since October and the firm says they have increased day-to-day communication among workmates creating a more happy and confident team.


Actors taking sign language to the stage

13 November 2017 (The Scotsman)

A group of actors from the UK’s only degree course for deaf performers are taking their show on the road for the first time this week, with the hope that it will challenge public perceptions. 

The production, which blends British Sign Language (BSL) with spoken English, will be performed by students from the Glasgow-based Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The group of ten actors are all studying Performance in British Sign Language and English, a three-year degree course which is the only one of its kind in the UK.


Sign language users in Scotland 'to gain new rights'

24 October 2017 (BBC)

The Scottish government is expected to announce plans to integrate the use of British Sign Language (BSL) into every element of daily and public life.

It will reveal its national plan for people with hearing loss later.

Measures expected to be in the plan include moves to remove barriers which prevent deaf people becoming teachers.

It is also likely to address "fair and equal access" to employment opportunities, including apprenticeships and internships.

Minister Mark McDonald is to visit the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, which offers the UK's only degree course for deaf performers.

He will then outline the details of the national plan to the Scottish Parliament.


British Sign Language alphabet: How an intricate system of gestures gave a voice to millions

7 September 2017 (The Independent)

As Britain’s pupils return to school for the start of the new academic year, Google marks the occasion with a new Doodle paying tribute to British Sign Language (BSL).

BSL is a vital tool that has enabled generations of young deaf and speech-impaired students in the UK to communicate with their teachers and classmates, ensuring their disability does not have a negative impact on their opportunities in the classroom.

But how was BSL first conceived and how has it developed?


Vast majority of young people think there should be a GCSE in sign language

15 May 2017 (TES)

Deaf charity finds that 97 per cent of 8-25 year-olds think sign language should be taught in schools. Almost all deaf young people think British Sign Language (BSL) should be taught in schools, according to a new survey. The National Deaf Children’s Society surveyed more than 2,000 deaf and hearing people, aged between eight and 25 and living across the UK, for its Right to Sign report. The charity found 97 per cent of young people thought that the language should be taught and 92 per cent thought it should be offered as a GCSE.


More sign language classes are to be held in Moffat due to demand

4 May 2017 (DNG24)

Resident Fiona Stewart, who is herself deaf, will lead the four sessions, starting on the evening of Wednesday May 17 and also running the 24 and 31 and June 7.

It comes after she hosted a successful initial introduction to British Sign Language (BSL) course earlier this year, attended by 50 people.

It was initiated by Catherine Jackson, whose children wanted to learn BSL.

She said: “The class was so popular that we ended up running two groups, both over four sessions. And there’s still a waiting list and requests for us to run more.”


Launch of British Sign Language (BSL) Bookbug session in Fife

25 April 2017 (Fife Today)

Bookbug – a free story, song and rhyme session for babies, toddlers, pre-school children and their families is set to launch Fife’s debut British Sign Language friendly group at Kirkcaldy Libraries next month.

All deaf parents with hearing children, hearing parents with deaf children and deaf parents with deaf children are invited to book a place.

Depending on uptake, the hope is to continue these specialised sessions on a monthly basis.

The event, on May 15 at 10.30am, is part of Bookbug Week 2017, which takes place between May 15-21 in celebration of ‘Bookbug’s Big Giggle’. This fun and playful theme will inspire children and adults alike to feel good by sharing songs and rhymes.


Dingwall Academy's pioneering sign language work hailed at Holyrood

2 April 2017 (Ross-shire Journal)

Dingwall Academy’s leadership in promoting British Sign Language (BSL) has been applauded by the Scottish Parliament – after the school was highly praised by Strathpeffer-based MSP, Maree Todd.

She used the recent debate on the consultation on the Draft BSL National Plan to highlight the initiative of Dingwall Academy’s unit. During her speech, she used BSL to welcome former Dingwall Academy pupil, Caitlin Bogan, who was watching the debate from the viewing gallery.

The MSP later said: “We should all be proud of what is being done in the Highlands. Dingwall Academy is one of the few schools to deliver a BSL unit – all students in first year, including my son Gregor this year, take BSL classes as a taster along with other languages, including French, Gaelic and German.


Should pupils have to learn sign language?

15 March 2017 (BBC News)

"When I meet hearing children who can sign, I feel happy and confident," says Emmanuel, seven.

"I want to teach everyone British sign language - the whole world."

Faiza, 11, says: "If children learnt more sign, it would mean I'd try to play with them more. Communication would be easier.

"If my hearing friends didn't sign, I would feel lonely and sad."

For these deaf children at Blanche Nevile School in north London, helping hearing peers learn British sign language (BSL) is a chance to break down barriers and make new friends.
Their school shares a site with Highgate Primary School, and the schools work in partnership so that deaf and hearing children can learn alongside each other.

While BSL was recognised as a language in its own right 14 years ago, it is not included in the national curriculum in England.

Now, an online petition set up by Wayne Barrow, who grew up with deaf parents, is aiming to change that.


Related Links

Should hearing children learn sign language? (BBC News, 15 March 2017) - meet school pupils learning to sign and learning alongside deaf children (video report)

Sign language costs 'too high' for some families
(BBC News, 15 March 2017)

Watch as MP uses British Sign Language in the House of Commons (Daily Mirror, 16 March 2017)

MP Dawn Butler praised for using sign language in Commons (BBC News, 16 March 2017)

New student profile on SCILT's website

24 February 2017 (SCILT)

We have a range of Job Profiles on our website designed for teachers to use in the classroom to enhance learning about the world of work and how language skills can play a part.

Our latest addition comes from Emma Therer, a student of German and Linguistics, whose aim is to become a translator and interpreter. She believes languages are key in getting to know people and to learn about other cultures.

Read her profile and others on our website now.


Heriot-Watt Multilingual Debate 2017

12 December 2016 (Heriot-Watt University)

Heriot-Watt University's Multilingual Debate is an annual event showcasing the interpreting skills of undergraduate and postgraduate students.

The 2017 Debates will take place on Wednesday 22 March with two multilingual teams arguing for and against a motion of topical interest in a range of languages. There are two Debates; one in the morning, one in the afternoon.

The Multilingual Debates are open to schools, colleges and universities and aim to stimulate interest and dialogue among young people in the international politics and social issues of the modern world whilst also setting language acquisition in a realistic context.

The topics for the 2017 Debates have just been announced and can be viewed on the YouTube video.

Visit the Heriot-Watt website for further information.


Metro Deaf School to make history with Chinese sign language

27 November 2016 (Star Tribune)

St. Cloud State University and the Metro Deaf School in St. Paul have joined forces to include deaf and hard-of-hearing students in a first-of-its-kind cross-cultural exchange. The Metro Deaf School has opened a “Confucius classroom” for students to learn Chinese sign language, history and culture.


Sign language degree opens opportunities

17 November 2016 (Edinburgh News)

A chronic UK-wide shortage of British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters led Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh to launch Scotland’s first BSL degree course in 2012 to equip students with the skills they require for a career in translation and interpretation.

The first cohort graduated in June with many going straight into jobs as a result of the high demand for BSL interpreters.

Many interpreters are self employed, working freelance and using agencies to source work within the deaf community. Others go into salaried employment, as Sam Rojas, 21, did with North East Sensory Services (NESS) in Aberdeen after graduating from Heriot-Watt.


How human brains do language: One system, two channels

8 November 2016 (Science Daily)

Currently there is a debate as to what role sign language has played in language evolution, and whether the structure of sign language share similarities with spoken language. New research shows that our brain detects some deep similarities between speech and sign language.


Inverclyde Academy pupils’ modern languages day is a winner

6 October 2016 (Greenock Telegraph)

Inverclyde Academy youngsters explored other cultures as part of a day celebrating modern languages.

Third year pupils also served up coffee and cakes to their guests, who included language ambassadors from Strathclyde University and Mandarin speakers.

Principal teacher Sarah Bell invited along experts in British Sign Language, as she widened out the European day of languages.


Promoting Excellence in Sign Language Instruction

21 September 2016 (ECML)

The ProSign 2 project Promoting Excellence in Sign Language Instruction aims to raise the profile of sign language (SL) teachers in Europe and to support them in their efforts to achieve excellence in their teaching, both content-wise and didactically.

PRO-Sign 2's goal is to disseminate high quality materials aligned to the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) and to facilitate the exchange and strengthening of expertise amongst Europe's sign language teachers to support them in their work and to raise the quality of sign language teaching and learning.

Find out more on the ECML website.


Scotland leading the world in sign language provision

27 June 2016 (The Herald)

Scotland is setting the agenda for sign language provision internationally thanks to new graduates from the country's first degree course on the subject.

More than a dozen new sign language interpreters have become the first to qualify after completing an MA in British Sign Language (BSL) at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.


Why learn Scotland’s fourth language - British Sign Language?

21 March 2016 (Third Force News)

Scottish cultural mix of the country’s three languages, Scots, English and Gaelic, means that from the craic of the east coast to the patter of towns in the central belt, traditional idioms and turns of phrase that would trip the foreign tongue are never far off. However questions about Scotland’s fourth official language are often greeted with puzzled looks or a bemused radio silence; what fourth language? British Sign Language (BSL) follows its own syntax and grammatical structures that varies from English and is the manual language of the Scottish deaf community, a unique linguistic-cultural group numbering around 6,500 people.


British Sign Language (Scotland) Act gains momentum

11 March 2016 (Scottish Government)

A new expert advisory group has been appointed to support the implementation of legislation which will improve the way public services meet the needs of deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users.

This follows the introduction of the historic BSL (Scotland) Act 2015 last September, which recognised BSL as a language of Scotland, and will result in the first BSL Action Plan.

Eight deaf BSL users were recruited, as well as a hearing parent of a deaf child, to work alongside public bodies – such as Creative Scotland, COSLA and the NHS – to support the implementation of the Act.


Making Themselves Heard: Chinese Sign Language & Deaf China Online

7 March 2016 (What's on Weibo)

February 21st marked the United Nations International Mother Language Day, so-named for its recognition of mother tongues across the world. It was also the day that sign language interpreter and performer Xiaoshu Alice Hu (Austria/China) called attention to the inclusion of sign languages, Chinese Sign Language in particular, in the celebration of international mother languages.

Hu, who speaks Chinese, Austrian and English sign language, posted a picture of herself holding a sign, saying: “Please don’t ignore our Deaf’s Mother Language-Chinese Sign Language!” with the hashtag #中国手语 (ChineseSignLanguage).

Spoken Chinese is commonly perceived as one of the world’s hardest languages to master. Aside from the hours spent deciphering thousands of characters, learners are also confronted with four subtly differing tones that are at first almost indistinguishable to the foreign ear. In day-to-day conversation, a perfect combination of light inflexions and stresses on each syllable can make-or-break a sentence from native fluency into complete nonsense.

With this in mind, it is rare to find discussions on what it is like to master Chinese without hearing the sounds and tones that so famously characterise it, yet for the Chinese Deaf community, this is a daily means of communication.


Sign language interpreting service expands

3 March 2016 (Scottish Government)

Online British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting service contactSCOTLAND is celebrating its first anniversary by expanding into the third sector.

The Scottish Government-funded service, which allows Deaf people across Scotland to contact public sector services using sign language, is being extended to community groups, voluntary organisations, charities, social enterprises, co-operatives and individual volunteers.

This project is unique in the UK and is the first nationally funded public sector Video Relay Service (VRS).

Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, Jamie Hepburn, confirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment to the service as it marked its first anniversary.


‘Sign language should be added to the national curriculum’

27 February 2016 (Eastern Daily Press)

Applies to England

We have seen a little surge in the past 20 years of hearing people wanting to learn British Sign Language, either to head down in the professional career track of deaf relations such as interpreting or communication support workers or just for casual use to communicate with a deaf friend.


Deaf school offers French signing as foreign language

26 February 2016 (TESS)

A school for deaf children has become the first in the country to offer pupils the chance to learn to sign in another language. The step was taken in order to fulfil the government's ambition that every child should learn two languages in primary.

The idea that there is only one international sign language is a widely-held misconception, says Enrique Canton, who is teaching French sign language to pupils at the Hamilton School for the Deaf in South Lanarkshire. Just as there are many spoken languages, each country has its own sign language, he explains, adding, 'Thereafter, there are regional variations, just in the same way that hearing people have regional or local accents.'

Mr Canton, who is deaf, was raised in France and, following a short spell living in Spain, moved to Scotland 15 years ago after meeting a 'Scottish lass.' He knows sign language in French, Spanish and British as well as international sign language.

(Read the full article on pages 8-9 of TESS digital online - subscription required).


Entire class learns sign language to communicate with deaf classmate

8 February 2016 (The Independent)

An entire class of pupils in Bosnia are being taught sign language so they can communicate with a deaf classmate.

Teacher Sanela Ljumanovic decided to help the children in her class at Sarajevo's Osman Nakas primary school learn to sign, after noticing six-year-old Zejd Coralic had become isolated from his peers.

It comes after Bosnia adopted laws in 2003 that meant children with disabilities should be fully integrated into the classroom.


Why Facebook has become so important to the sign language community

21 January 2016 (BBC News)

Sign language users once had to meet at local deaf clubs to have conversations and share their views. Now, video on social media means things have changed, says deaf journalist Charlie Swinbourne.


Multilingual Debate 2016

19 January 2016 (Heriot-Watt University)

Heriot-Watt University's Multilingual Debate is an annual event that showcases the interpreting skills of undergraduate students on our Languages (Interpreting and Translating) degree programme, as well as the developing professional skills of postgraduate students on our MSc Interpreting and Translating programmes. The event takes the form of a formal debate with two multilingual teams arguing for and against a motion of topical interest in a range of languages. The teams deliver their views in their various native languages (French, German, Spanish, English, Arabic, Chinese, British Sign Language (BSL)).

The audience is mainly made up of pupils coming from Scottish and English secondary schools, but also university undergraduate students considering entering the interpreting profession, as well as government and local authority representatives. The audiences participated in the debate by listening to the arguments, putting questions to the speakers in the languages represented and voting on the motion.

The Multilingual Debate 2016 takes place on Wednesday 23 March at Heriot-Watt University's Edinburgh campus.

To find out more about the debate topics and how to sign up to attend a session, see the video presentations in Arabic, BSL, Chinese, English, French and Spanish on the Heriot-Watt website.


Scotland becomes first part of UK to recognise signing for deaf as official language

18 October 2015 (The Herald)

Campaigners have hailed new legislation which will recognise signing as an official language in Scotland as a step towards breaking the “brick ceiling” which the deaf community faces in everyday life.

The British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill, which is due to become law in the next few weeks, will see Scotland become the first part of the UK to recognise signing for the deaf as an official language.

It means the Scottish Government and public bodies will have a responsibility to promote the language and consider how services can be provided in British Sign Language (BSL).


More people want to learn sign language than French or German

16 October 2015 (Daily Mirror)

More people want to learn sign language than French and German, a study shows today.

And a survey by the National Deaf Children’s Society shows two out of three adults think sign language is more impressive than speaking a foreign language.

One in four people in Britain say they want to learn sign language, which would total 12.7m adults.

The top three languages people would like to learn are Spanish (28%), British Sign Language (24%) and French (23%).


In conversation with William Mager from See Hear

2 October 2015 (BBC blog)

We spoke to See Hear series producer William Mager about his career at the BBC and his work producing the BBC's flagship magazine programme for the deaf community, now in its 35th series. The following interview was conducted with a British Sign Language interpreter and is published here in full.


Student's smart glove translates sign language into speech

1 October 2015 (ZDNet)

Student Hadeel Ayoub has invented a smart glove which converts sign language into text and speech.

Those with difficulties with spoken language or hearing can find communicating difficult. This problem may be intensified if others do not understand sign language, which replaces words with gestures. However, a student from Goldsmiths, University of London has decided to tackle the problem with a glove that converts these gestures into understandable text on a display or audible dialogue.


Students begin studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on the UK’s first deaf performing arts degree course

29 September 2015 (All Media Scotland)

Eight new students who are all deaf or hard of hearing have begun their studies on the UK’s first performance degree programme for deaf actors at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

The BA Performance in British Sign Language and English course has been designed specifically for deaf students who aspire to a career in the theatre industry.

Created in partnership with Solar Bear Theatre Company, this three-year degree programme is recognised as the only course of its kind currently on offer in the UK.

The Royal Conservatoire has been preparing for this new degree for almost four years, with many academic and administrative staff undertaking sign language courses, deaf awareness training and hosting short courses for deaf students in the performing arts.


Applause as MSPs unanimously back bill promoting use of British Sign Language

18 September 2015 (The National)

Legislation to promote the use of British Sign Language (BSL) was unanimously backed by MSPs last night.

The passage of the British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill, brought forward by Labour MSP Mark Griffin, was greeted with cheers and applause by campaigners in the Scottish Parliament’s public gallery.

It 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.

During a debate on the bill at Holyrood, Griffin cited statistics from the Scottish Council on Deafness showing that 77 per cent of BSL users who visited hospital could not easily communicate with NHS staff.

He said: “It is that sense of abandonment and isolation – whether it be in a healthcare situation, in a school or an education situation – that I hope the passing of this legislation will address.”

Languages minister Dr Alasdair Allan said the Scottish Government would set up a BSL group to advise on the content of the national plan.

Labour equality spokeswoman Rhoda Grant said the bill “will send a strong message to the deaf and deaf-blind community that we value them and we value their language”.


Related Links

For more information on the Bill itself, visit the page about the British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill on the Scottish Parliament's website and see Parliament TV coverage of the proceedings held in the Scottish Parliament on 17 September 2015.  You can also access the Official Report from the Meeting of the Parliament on 17 September 2015 in which the British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill was discussed.

MSPs support bill to promote British Sign Language (The Herald, 17 September 2015)

The British Sign Language (BSL) (Scotland) Bill passed unanimously (The Edinburgh Reporter, 17 September 2015)

British Deaf Association applauds British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill (BDA, 17 September 2015)

Sign language given formal status in Scotland (Holyrood, 18 September 2015)

New BSL bill is a welcome sign of the times (The Herald, 18 September 2015)

BBC presenter campaigns for UK schools to teach British Sign Language

11 September 2015 (Limping Chicken)

To mark the start of the new school year in September, British television presenter Angellica Bell is encouraging school children across the UK to learn British Sign Language.

The former children’s presenter has made a free educational video for national charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, to help raise deaf awareness in schools.


Planning for the National BSL Plan: Building a sustainable framework for British Sign Language in schools

3 September 2015 (Scottish Insight)

The British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill aims to promote British Sign Language (BSL), a visual-gestural language used at home by over 12,500 people in Scotland (Scottish Census, 2011). The Bill requires from Scottish Government a national plan outlining an action framework for BSL. Getting the first national plan right is critical to meeting the Bill’s objectives, as this plan will establish the framework for all subsequent action on BSL (Education and Culture Committee, 2015).

This programme will support the first national plan by bringing together Deaf sector organisations, BSL users, educators and early years workers, policy makers, and experts in BSL, sign language studies and language learning. These stakeholders will share information, identify challenges and explore opportunities for increasing teaching of BSL within the Scottish Education system. “Promotion of BSL in an education setting” was identified by the Education and Culture Committee as one of five areas requiring particular attention in the national plan. In the long-term, the aim is for an inclusive society where deaf BSL users can communicate in BSL with their friends, peers and colleagues. To meet this longer-term vision, careful thought and planning is required around how to provide sustainable opportunities for hearing children to learn BSL. The aim of this programme is to ensure that this planning begins now.


Charlie Swinbourne: How being able to sign helps you communicate in a foreign language

18 August 2015 (The Limping Chicken blog)

I’ve just returned from a two week holiday by the sea in France. My family enjoyed all the things about France you might expect – the sun, pretty villages, beaches, and food.

This was also our first holiday in a non-English speaking country since the children were born, and what struck me was how, when you try and communicate with a French person who knows no English, being able to sign makes a surprising difference.

On the last night of our holiday, we stayed in a French farmhouse where we were served a home-cooked French meal by a waiter who was a bit of a ringer for Gerard Depardieu and spoke only French. Despite the language barrier, using gesture and sign, we were able to have a full conversation.


When It Comes To Learning For The Deaf, 'It's A 3-D Language'

28 June 2015 (NPR)

The Motion Light Lab, or ML2 is the newest hub of the National Science Foundation Science of Learning Center, Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2) at Gallaudet University, the premier school for deaf and hard of hearing students.

In its latest venture, the team wants to pair original ASL rhymes with a 3-D signing avatar, a concept that could eventually be rendered into a signing cartoon animal on a kids show, for example.


British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1

8 May 2015 (Scottish Parliament)

Debates on the motions for the British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1 and British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill: Financial Resolution took place on Tuesday 5 May and transcripts have now been published on the Scottish Parliament website.  These can be accessed via the links below:

British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill

27 April 2015 (Scottish Parliament)

The Education and Culture Committee published its Stage 1 Report on British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill on 27 April 2015. The Stage 1 debate will be held on Tuesday 5 May.

The British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill was introduced in the Parliament on 29 October 2014 by Mark Griffin MSP. The Bill aims to promote the use of British Sign Language in Scotland.


Related Links

MSPs support bill to make public bodies back sign language (The National, 28 April 2015)

Allan gives evidence on sign language bill

17 March 2015 (Stornoway Gazette)

Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan, today (Tuesday) appeared in front of the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee to help promote legislation to support the use of British Sign Language.

Alasdair Allan was giving evidence on the Scottish Government’s response to the British Sign Language Members’ Bill being put forward by Mark Griffin MSP.


National roll-out for sign language interpreting service

2 March 2015 (Scottish Government)

A nationwide roll-out of a new online interpreting service will allow deaf people across Scotland to use sign language to contact public sector services.

The Scottish Government has announced today the extension of the current NHS 24 online British Sign Language (BSL) Video Relay Interpreting Service pilot to the rest of the public sector in Scotland.

The new Scottish Government-funded service, contactSCOTLAND, will mean deaf people can now speak to public services, such as their local council, doctor’s surgery and the Scottish Government, without the need for someone to call on their behalf.

This project is unique in the UK and is the first nationally funded public sector Video Relay Service.


BSL and Makaton signing classes for Highland pupils

25 January 2015 (The Scotsman)

Nursery and primary school pupils in the Highlands will be the first in Scotland to be taught sign language as part of the new curriculum.

Smithton Primary, on the outskirts of Inverness, will teach youngsters both British Sign Language (BSL) and Makaton – a form of signing for those with special educational needs or communication disorders that is popularly used by Mr Tumble on the CBeebies show Something Special.

The move at the school has been welcomed by the British Deaf Association and the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters.

It has come about after the Scottish Government’s announcement that all primary age children should have two additional languages as well as their first language.


British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill

15 December 2014 (Scottish Parliament)

The British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill was introduced into the Parliament on 29 October 2014 by Mark Griffin MSP, and was subsequently referred to the Education and Culture Committee as lead committee. 

The Bill aims to promote the use of British Sign Language including by making provision for the preparation and publication of a British Sign Language National Plan for Scotland and by requiring certain authorities to prepare and publish their own British Sign Language Plans in connection with the exercise of their functions; and to provide for the manner in which such plans are to be prepared and for their review and updating. 

The Committee is curretnly seeking evidence on the Bill. The deadline for responses is 2 February 2015. 

More information on the Bill together with BSL video and audio version of the call for evidence are available on the Scottish Parliament website.

There is also a BSL Bill Group on Facebook.


University of Strathclyde Education Scotland British Council Scotland The Scottish Government
SCILT - Scotlands National centre for Languages