SCOTTISH ASSOCIATION
OF SIGN LANGUAGE
INTERPRETERS

Creating Linguistic Access for Deaf and
Deafblind People:

A STRATEGY FOR
SCOTLAND

5 The Proposals


5.1 Chapters 1 and 2 of this Report stressed deaf and deafblind people’s right to access all areas of life. This access is mediated primarily through different types of language choice and support. Chapter 3 described the current situation relating to some of the key areas, such as education, employment and social work services. Chapter 4 gave an overview of the types of personnel and resources which would be required to make linguistic access, and thereby social inclusion, a reality for deaf and deafblind people in Scotland.

5.2 It will be clear from these chapters that a major change of approach is required if deaf and deafblind people are to be given full access. Currently Scotland is failing to meet the

5.3 This Report stresses that the new strategy for access and inclusion must be

i. coherent – operating across all sectors, not just within individual sectors;
ii. integrated – taking account of the deaf/deafblind person’s needs from childhood to old age;
iii. empowering – recognising that if deaf and deafblind people are given their right to access, they themselves can make a key contribution to providing access to others, as well as to the other areas of public life in Scotland.

5.4.1 The Training Strategy Group therefore proposes that the Scottish Executive establish a Scottish Centre for Deaf Studies. This would have the following key roles:

i. to provide training of trainers, including trainers of interpreters, lipspeakers and tutors of BSL;
ii. to provide direct training of tutors of BSL, BSL/English interpreters, deafblind guide communicators, lipspeakers, notetakers and speech to text reporters;
iii. to offer courses for professionals who can provide linguistic access in BSL and English, e.g. social workers who can operate bilingually;
iv. to develop resources and materials which can support training, education and access, e.g. multi-media bilingual materials;
v. to develop appropriate ongoing research in such areas as Deaf Studies, BSL, English as an Additional Language for Deaf people, BSL as an Additional Language, Hands-On Signing, Sign Linguistics, Multi-Media Technology and Linguistic Assessment which can support training.

5.4.2 It is most likely that the Scottish Centre for Deaf Studies would be made up of a consortium of institutions and organisations. Discussions should begin immediately concerning the possible structure of the SCDS. It may be appropriate to invite interested parties to submit proposals or to develop a framework for a tendering process.

5.4.3 A major advantage of having a single Centre is that this can develop cumulative experience and expertise. Rather than individuals and small groups across the country trying to develop curricula for courses, technical resources and the like, the SCDS teams can pool ideas and learn from the past.

5.4.4 However, the concept of a Centre should also incorporate several key elements:

It has been clear from the consultations and discussions held during the preparation of this Report that there are deaf societies and deaf organisations across Scotland who are keen to participate in these developments. Several organisations, including deaf societies who provide social work services, schools and services for deaf pupils and deaf voluntary organisations have stressed their willingness to provide work-placed practice for the different types of personnel. In some cases, they would be interested in joint delivery of courses or course components. It would be essential for SCDS to take up these opportunities and to develop a range of courses with different types of delivery. There should be flexibility to meet the needs of course participants and employers.

5.5 The SCDS should also facilitate and promote the notion of lifelong learning for deaf, deafblind and hearing people. There should be opportunities, for example, for deaf people to exploit some of the new technologies and new methodologies to develop and enhance their competence in English as an additional language: deaf people whose first language is English may wish to do the same with respect to BSL. Opportunities to change career or add new skills would be more possible within the context of a centre where access is the key feature.

5.6 The Scottish Executive should support the initiatives relating to the introduction of Deaf Studies and BSL as subject areas within the Scottish school curriculum within the 3-14 Curriculum, at Standard Grade and within the new system of National Qualifications arising from the Higher Still Development. Once deaf, deafblind people, and indeed some hearing people, begin to leave school with qualifications in these areas, then we can begin to build appropriate levels of education and training. These initiatives involve the development of curriculum and related resources and the training of professionals to deliver the curriculum. Thus dedicated funding is required.

5.7 Through SHEFC and SFEFC, the Scottish Executive should provide dedicated funding to support the development of degree and postgraduate courses for BSL/English Interpreters, Tutors of BSL and Bilingual Professionals (such as Teachers of Deaf Children/Young People and Bilingual Social Workers). Funding should also be made available for introducing core subject areas of Deaf Studies, BSL and Sign Language Studies as options within vocational courses and within degree courses, including Honours courses in their own right. The existence of such courses in BSL, Sign Language Studies and Deaf Studies, as well as modular options in these subjects, would ultimately support an increase in the numbers of bilingual professionals.

5.8 There needs to be a more focused approach to the development and provision of resources, including personnel and technical resources. Such an approach will include the development of quality standards for access including

i. the use of appropriately trained and qualified professionals by all service providers, eg; the use of registered BSL/English interpreters in all situations, including the courts and in education;
ii. subtitling/captioning of all educational/public information for deaf children and adults and on all video/CD/DVD educational and social material for deaf children;
iii. addition of signing on educational/public information for deaf children and adults and on all video/CD/DVD educational and social material for deaf children;
iv. the creation of targeted items in BSL developed from a deaf perspective, ie rather than always adapting material designed for hearing people to the requirements of deaf people, actually beginning with deaf people themselves;
v. use of personnel to provide access through BSL/visual English in all public information contexts, eg; the proceedings of the Scottish Parliament, public interactions of local authorities, etc.

5.9 The Scottish Executive should also collaborate with deaf and deafblind organisations to ensure greater publicity and awareness of deaf and deafblind access issues. Actions should include:

i. an explicit information campaign to inform deaf and deafblind people of rights and opportunities (eg; their rights to Access to Work support and their right to support within FE and HE through the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA);
ii. working in liaison with the Westminster Government, an explicit information campaign to inform employers of their responsibilities and the support available to them (eg; through Access to Work and other initiatives);
iii. an explicit campaign to inform service providers in such areas as health, social work services, education and the justice system of their obligations and responsibilities relating to linguistic access under the European Convention of Human Rights, the Disability Discrimination Act, the Special Education Needs Disability Act and other relevant legislation;
iv. a campaign using deaf and deafblind role models who can provide examples of the contributions which deaf and deafblind people can make to society, if they are allowed to participate fully in all areas of life.

5.10 A time-scale for the phased introduction of such provision would be linked to the training and provision of personnel. The suggested steps would be as follows:

i. a Scottish Centre for Deaf Studies should be established within one year of this strategy receiving approval. The Director/Co-ordinator of the SCDS would co-ordinate the range of initiatives required to ensure a seamless approach to provision:
ii. working in liaison with the Westminster Government, an explicit information campaign to inform employers of their responsibilities and the support available to them (eg; through Access to Work and other initiatives);
iii. an explicit campaign to inform service providers in such areas as health, social work services, education and the justice system of their obligations and responsibilities relating to linguistic access under the European Convention of Human Rights, the Disability Discrimination Act, the Special Education Needs Disability Act and other relevant legislation;
iv. a campaign using deaf and deafblind role models who can provide examples of the contributions which deaf and deafblind people can make to society, if they are allowed to participate fully in all areas of life.

5.11 Government Initiatives in Relation to Gaelic
Over the last twenty years there has been a steady increase in Government spending in relation to another indigenous language of Scotland, Gaelic. This funding has been distributed in a number of different ways, through specific funding to Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelic College on Skye which is now linked to the UHI project. Major funding has also been awarded for Gaelic medium education, including provision for Gaelic pre-school education. Gaelic broadcasting also receives regular support. In addition, financial support is channelled through normal funding routes, such as cultural organisations and community groups. The proposals for supporting linguistic access for deaf people could be seen in a comparable way. The proposals above give a special role to a Centre for Deaf Studies. However, they also recognise the importance of providing a range of funding opportunities and ensuring partnerships amongst organisations. This Report has not specified costings for each of the initiatives. Rather it is proposed that, if these proposals are accepted in principle, detailed costings could be prepared, either separately or in consultation with Scottish Executive staff.

5.12 Conclusion: Inclusion and Equality
The implementation of the above proposals would allow deaf and deafblind people to be treated as equal citizens within Scotland. While Scotland currently lags behind other countries in facilitating access, the introduction of these new measures would allow Scotland to take a lead. These measures primarily relate to language and decisions on language policy are devolved to the Scottish Parliament. In February 2000, MSP from all parties spoke in favour of recognising British Sign Language and the rights of deaf people to linguistic access. Since then, Jackie Baillie the Minister for Equality and Social Justice has stressed that the Scottish Executive is more interested in ensuring equality for deaf people by practical measures than in working towards a formal statement of recognition as such. This Report provides a strategy for bringing about such equality and for enabling deaf and deafblind people to be full citizens of the new Scotland.


Last updated 06.Mar.03

Scottish Sensory Centre

Moray House School of Education
University of Edinburgh
Holyrood Road
Edinburgh
EH8 8AQ