Video blog: Scotland is leading the world in sign language recognition

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Frankie McLean's video blog on what Scots delegates learned at World Federation of the Deaf international conference in Budapest 

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12th February 2018 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

Frankie McLean

Frankie McLean

It is an exciting and interesting time for British Sign Language (BSL) and for those who speak this language in Scotland. The British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015 placed a duty on public bodies in Scotland – both national and local – to set out how they will provide access in British Sign Language and promote this full, proper and now legally protected language.

This will be done through BSL plans – a national plan for national public bodies and authority plans for local public bodies.

BSL, as the name suggests, is used in Britain only; other countries across the globe have their own indigenous sign languages with their own associated histories. However, not all sign languages are recognised as BSL has been – there are varying degrees of recognition in different parts of the world. Sign language is has constitutional recognition in Kenya, parliamentary in England and Spain, governmental in a Australia, and Scoltand now has its own specific legislation.

World Federation of the Deaf - 2017 International Conference - Summary from Deaf Action on Vimeo.

The Scottish Government launched its first ever BSL National Plan in September of last year, and naturally it was felt that this momentous legislation and associated work should be promoted internationally. To this end, Deaf Action attended the World Federation of the Deaf third international conference in Budapest.

This conference had the overarching theme of, “Full Inclusion with Sign Language”, which is an accurate reflection on what the BSL (Scotland) Act strives to achieve in the long term.

Part of the delegation’s remit was to feedback to the BSL community in Scotland about the conference and other international activities in order to promote knowledge and citizenship both nationally and internationally. As BSL is a visual-gestural language with features completely distinct from English, this feedback can't simply be written or read – so we have created the video above, with subtitles and voice-over for those who do not speak BSL.

We have presented the video in a distinct style that we hope makes it interesting. It is hoped it provides a good flavour of sign languages, some insight into the barriers that deaf people face daily, and the work that is being done to achieve full inclusion for both deaf and hearing people through sign language.

Frankie McLean is operations manager at Deaf Action