Strong support for new Bill

Central Scotland Labour MSP Mark Griffin’s campaign to improve life for Scotland’s deaf and deaf-blind citizens has won cross-party support.

Mr Griffin, whose Lanarkshire constituency includes Cumbernauld and Kilsyth, has seen his British Sign Language (BSL) (Scotland) Bill formally introduced into the Scottish Parliament, after gaining the backing of 43 MSPs from across the political spectrum.

It would place a requirement on the Scottish Government to produce a national plan for BSL, while relevant public authorities would also have to develop their own plans.

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In them they’d have to highlight what they will do to increase awareness of the language within their organisations and across Scotland.

A total of 1,192 people responded to the public consultation on the issue, which is considered a high figure for Members’ Bills.

Mark Griffin said: “I am delighted that my British Sign Language Bill has been formally introduced.

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

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He added: “Simple things that so many of us take for granted such as arranging a medical appointment or reporting a crime are incredibly difficult for those who communicate in BSL. This has to change.

“My Bill seeks to increase awareness of BSL throughout Scottish society, put pressure on the Scottish Government and relevant public authorities to develop action plans on improving access to information in BS, and work towards breaking down the barriers facing Scotland’s Deaf population on a daily basis.”

He aims to step up the momentum in weeks to come.