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What is BSL?

What is British Sign Language?

After English and Welsh, BSL is the third language indigenous to the UK. Recent figures from the British Deaf Association (BDA) suggest that on any day up to 250,000 people use some BSL.

British Sign Language was officially recognised by the UK Government as a full, independent language in March 2003.

The following January it was recognised as a language by the Welsh Assembly, under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland in March 2004 and by the Scottish Government in March 2011.

In March 2011, the then Public Health Minister Shona Robison made the following statement:

“British Sign Language is a vibrant language which makes a vital difference to the daily lives of many deaf people in Scotland. It is important that we do all we can to support the use of the language.”

As you may be aware, a BSL Bill was coursing its way through the Scottish Parliament stages for some time. At 5pm on Thursday 17th September 2015, the Scottish Parliament unanimously agreed to pass the BSL (Scotland) Bill.

The Bill aims to promote the use of BSL in Scotland - how?
- by making provision for the preparation and publication of a BSL National Plan for Scotland and by requiring certain public authorities to prepare and publish their own 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.