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Archive for September, 2015

18 SepSector celebrates passing of BSL (Scotland) Bill

British Sign Language (BSL) has been recognised as a language in law for the first time with the passing of the BSL (Scotland) Bill.

The Bill requires the Scottish Ministers to “promote, and facilitate the promotion of, the use and understanding of the language known as British Sign Language”.

The Bill, introduced by Mark Griffin MSP, is the result of years of campaigning by deaf and deafblind people.

There were cheers from the gallery as MSPs passed the Bill unanimously. Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick took the unprecedented step of thanking Mark Griffin, the parliamentary staff and all the interpreters for their fantastic work.

Craig Crowley, chair of the task force that helped the sector find a statement of common purpose, said: “This is a great day for deaf and deafblind people in Scotland and across the UK.

“Not only does is set us firmly on the road to UK recognition of our language, it shows what the sector can achieve when we work together.

“This Bill wouldn’t have happened if deaf and deafblind people, organisations working through the Scottish Council on Deafness, and the Scottish Government hadn’t put aside their differences and focused on what we collectively care about.

“So I hope it will be a boost to the work that will follow from our statement of common purpose. The group that will oversee it is meeting for the first time at the end of the month, and I know they’ll have their sights set on just as big a prize.

“It’s been over 20 years since the Commission of Enquiry into Human Aids to Communication called for BSL to be officially recognised as a minority language. If we all pull together, perhaps we can achieve that before the end of the decade.”

07 SepCross sector support for statement of common purpose

Almost 60 organisations are already supporting the statement of common purpose on deafness and hearing loss.

The list already represents the breadth of the sector. It includes organisations that work with or represent

  • people of all ages who are Deaf, deaf, deafened, deafblind or have a hearing loss;
  • the myriad of responses to deafness and hearing loss, from people whose only language is sign language to those who have a cochlear implant; and
  • communication and language professionals, education institutions, communication agencies, and politicians.

Significantly, it includes organisations that aren’t exclusively concerned with deafness or hearing loss. They include NHS Grampian, the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Heriot Watt University, and Southampton City Council’s Reablement Team.

Craig Crowley, chair of the task force that has led the work, said: “We are pleased so many have already signed the statement and look forward to more doing the same.

“The diversity of organisations shows we have gone some way to identifying the core of what our sector is about. We knew there is much we agree on – we just needed to have the conversation.

“Likewise, the work that will be done as a result of this process will be led by organisations across the spectrum of deafness and hearing loss. We are already talking to high profile hearing aid manufacturers, telecommunications providers and others about their involvement too.

“We therefore hope the list will have grown to at least 80 organisations before we formally launch the statement in late autumn. Then we will be in a good position to realise our vision of a world that benefits from people who are deaf or have a hearing loss being able to fulfil their potential.

Six mission groups will develop a collaborative programme of work. They are

  • awareness, chaired by Jim Edwards of Signature;
  • education, chaired by Lindsey Rousseau of NatSIP;
  • employment, chaired by Jan Sheldon of RAD;
  • information, chaired by Lorraine Gailey of Hearing Link;
  • services, chaired by Jeff Skipp of Deafblind UK; and
  • prevention, chaired by Paul Breckell of Action on Hearing Loss.

The chairs will make up the majority of the steering group that will oversee all the work. They will be joined by Jane Cordell of Getting Equal and Craig Crowley of Action Deafness.

The statement of common purpose initiative is facilitated by the UK Council on Deafness. For more information see

If you want to join the list of founder signatories and help promote the statement please email


  1. Action Deafness
  2. Action for Deafness
  3. Action on Hearing Loss
  4. ADEPT
  5. appa
  6. APPG on Deafness
  7. Association of Lipspeakers
  8. Association of Sign Language Interpreters
  9. Association of Verbatim Speech to Text Reporters
  10. BID Services
  11. Brian Archbold
  12. British Association of Teachers of the Deaf
  13. British Deaf Association
  14. Cambridgeshire Hearing Help
  15. Chief Officers’ Group of Third Sector Deaf Organisations
  16. Clarion Interpreting
  17. Cochlear Implanted Children’s Support Group
  18. Cumbria DeafVision
  19. Deaf Direct
  20. Deafblind UK
  21. Deafconnect
  22. Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre, University College London
  23. Deafness Support Network
  24. deafPlus
  25. Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies, Heriot Watt University
  26. The Ear Foundation
  27. Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education
  28. Gloucestershire Deaf Association
  29. Gwen Carr
  30. HearFirst
  31. Hearing Link
  32. Hearing Loss and Deafness Alliance
  33. Hertfordshire Hearing Advisory Service
  34. Home Counties Cochlear Implant Group
  35. Jane Cordell
  36. Louise Tonks
  37. Manchester Deaf Centre
  38. National Association of Deafened People
  39. National Cochlear Implant Users Association
  40. National Community Hearing Association
  41. National Deaf Children’s Society
  42. National Sensory Impairment Partnership
  43. NHS Grampian
  44. Nottinghamshire Deaf Society
  45. Phonak UK
  46. Reablement Team, Social Services, Southampton City Council
  47. Royal Association for Deaf People
  48. Scottish Council on Deafness
  49. Sense
  50. Sign Solutions
  51. Signature
  52. SignHealth
  53. Social Research with Deaf People, University of Manchester
  54. South Wales Cochlear Implant Support Group
  55. StageTEXT
  56. UK Deaf Sport
  57. Visual Language Professionals

04 SepAnnual conference

Fair exchange: developments in telecommunication

bt auditorium

We are holding a conference that will celebrate the advances that have been made in advanced telephony services and help us learn more about what needs to be done next.

The morning session will be opened by the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson MP. Deaf and deafblind people, Ofcom and service providers will tell us about recent advances and the impact they have had. The Scottish Parliament will also talk about its introduction of video relay services.

After lunch we will turn our attention to the future. Deaf and deafblind people will tell us their hopes for the future and Ofcom will talk about the role of regulation. Service providers will then respond to what has been said throughout the day and take questions from the audience.

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