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Highlands MSP hails sign language bill

By SPP Reporter

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MSP Rhoda Grant
MSP Rhoda Grant

Highlands & Islands MSP Rhoda Grant has welcomed a historic moment for the Deaf and Deafblind community across the Highlands & islands and the rest of Scotland, after the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed the British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill on Thursday.

The Bill, sponsored by Scottish Labour MSP Mark Griffin, places an obligation on central and local government to promote British Sign Language, and a leading academic has said the Bill will transform the lives of sign language users in Scotland. 

Supporting the Bill, Ms Grant said: “This is a historic victory for the Deaf community in Scotland.I am absolutely delighted that the Bill has passed and I was proud to support it.

“BSL is the first language of many Deaf and Deafblind people in Scotland. It is the only language some have ever known, or ever will know, yet getting access to basic information in BSL is incredibly difficult. 

“Simple things that so many hearing people take for granted, such as arranging doctor appointments, or reporting a crime to the police, are incredibly difficult for those who communicate in BSL.

“This has to change, and I am confident that having passed this Bill, we can begin to break down the barriers that face Deaf and Deafblind people on a daily basis.”

Professor Graham Turner, Director of the Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies in Scotland, added: "Mark Griffin's Bill will permanently transform the lives of every BSL user in Scotland. This is the most progressive legislative step to promote signed language that the UK has ever seen. What's more, it perfectly reflects the collaborative, participatory nature of Scottish public life.

“BSL users have always been ready to make a distinctive contribution to society, and by promoting their language, Scotland will enable this to happen.”

Heather Gray, Director of the National Deaf Children’s Society said: “The British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill marks a historic moment for the deaf community in Scotland, many of whom have British Sign Language as their first or preferred language. The National Deaf Children’s Society strongly believes that this landmark legislation will become a key driver in Scotland towards more effective service provision, better opportunities, and improved life chances for deaf children and young people.”

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