Mark Griffin MSP’s groundbreaking British Sign Language (BSL) (Scotland) Bill is another step closer to becoming reality. One third of Scotland’s 129 MSPs signed up to give the bill their support. 26 Labour, 13 SNP, 1 Conservative, 1 Liberal Democrat, 1 Green and 1 Independent MSP backed Mark’s bill. With 43 MSPs supporting the bill, this far exceeds the requirement for 18 members to back a bill for it to pass to a parliamentary committee. The BSL bill will now be assigned to a committee by the parliament’s Presiding Officer, Tricia Marwick MSP.
In response to this success, Mark said “I am delighted that so many fellow MSPs have signed up to allow the Bill to go forward to the next stage and thank them for their support.
“BSL is the first language of many Deaf people in Scotland. For a great number it is the only language they have ever known, or ever will know, yet getting access to basic information in BSL is incredibly difficult.
“My Bill seeks to increase awareness of BSL throughout Scottish society, put pressure on the Government and Scotland’s public authorities to develop action plans on improving access to information for Deaf people, and work towards breaking down the barriers facing Scotland’s Deaf population on a daily basis”.
Mark’s bill promises to have an enormous impact upon the daily lives of Deaf BSL users all across Scotland. Amongst the provisions contained within the bill are;
- A Scottish government minister with responsibility for BSL and Deaf culture
- The creation of a national BSL strategy and local action plans by public bodies
- The promotion of free BSL classes for the parents of deaf children and for people who acquire a profound hearing loss
- The inclusion of Deafblind BSL users and their individual communication needs in the national strategy and local action plans
A BSL Act for Scotland would mark a historic turning point in how we value deaf people. Signature will continue to work with our partners to help make this happen.