By Aileen MacLennan
Argyll and Bute Council has made significant progress in supporting and promoting the use of British Sign Language (BSL) over the last 12 months.
At a meeting of their Policy and Resources Committee, members heard how six of the seven measures identified in its Joint British Sign Language Plan have either been completed or put in to practice since the plan was approved in October 2018.
To date, early years staff have been provided with a pack containing resources and information about deaf culture for parents, nurseries and health visitors; BSL online resources have been made easily accessible through the Argyll and Bute Education blog; and Early Years staff have been provided with training on basic BSL and finger-spelling.
The council made a commitment to carry out a survey in schools each year to collect information on the level of BSL held by teachers and support staff – this year’s survey has been completed. A pilot project to teach BSL 101 to primary four pupils at a school in Argyll and Bute has also been completed, with seven pupils having passed to date.
The council is also continuing to keep up to date records on where and how BSL is being offered in Argyll and Bute schools.
Argyll and Bute Council’s Policy Lead for Customer Support Services, Councillor Rory Colville, said: “The Joint British Sign Language Plan is shared by the council, Live Argyll and the Health and Social Care Partnership, with the aim of improving access for deaf and deafblind BSL users to information and public services, including healthcare and mental health support.
“It is extremely encouraging to hear of the progress that has already been made in delivering the actions identified in the plan since it was adopted last year. Teaching and raising awareness of sign language is important in helping to break down barriers that deaf and deafblind people often encounter and opens up opportunities to make new friends.
“It also helps to keep pupils engaged, encourages inclusion, and is shown to help children develop literacy skills and grammatical understanding. We are committed to doing everything we can to develop literacy skills and grammatical understanding, and promote a more inclusive society.”