Call for views on the Scottish Parliament’s new BSL Plan (2024-2030)

Closes 23 Aug 2024

Opened 8 Jul 2024


Welcome to our British Sign Language (BSL) Plan consultation. We invite you to share your thoughts on how we intend to use and promote BSL in the Scottish Parliament over the next six years.

Since the BSL (Scotland) Act was passed in 2015, public bodies like the Scottish Parliament need to prepare a document called a BSL Plan every six years. The first BSL Plan was published in 2018 and is due to be followed up with a second BSL Plan.

For a refresher on the first BSL Plan’s key achievements, please watch the short video which provides a summary of the steps that the Scottish Parliament has taken.

BSL Plan (2018-2024) Key Achievements

Summary of key achievements

Improve access to our information and services for BSL users, including making our website more accessible.

When the Scottish Parliament moved to a new website in May 2021, the ‘BSL Hub’ launched at the same time, keeping BSL content in one place and thus providing convenience for BSL users. The BSL Hub hosts a wide selection of BSL videos (presently around forty) providing information, resources and reports relating to the Scottish Parliament. All BSL videos are presented by deaf BSL users. On social media, the Scottish Parliament has a dedicated Facebook Group for the BSL community and has seen membership grow to over 1,200 subscribers. The Scottish Parliament’s BSL Communities Officer (BCO) moderates the group, with regular posting of BSL content.

An important function of the Scottish Parliament is supporting citizen participation with the work of the Parliament (particularly through parliamentary committees), and ensuring that the BSL community are able to share their views in an accessible way. Since 2019, more than 15 public consultations have been made BSL accessible, covering a wide range of important topics such as healthcare, education, the impact of Covid-19, employment, justice, languages, culture and assisted dying.

Issue a regular e-Bulletin in BSL to subscribers and publish on the Scottish Parliament website and Facebook channel.

Since 2020, the BCO has continued to front BSL eBulletins on a fortnightly basis, giving information in BSL about news, legislation, events, parliamentary consultations, and other relevant information. The BSL eBulletins are promoted through the Scottish Parliament’s BSL Facebook Group and a number of BSL community Facebook groups. More than eighty-five BSL eBulletins have been produced and they attract an average of one hundred views from the BSL community.

Provide and film regular, agreed BSL-interpreted parliamentary business and ensure that access to this is advertised more widely. BSL-interpreted First Minister’s Questions (FMQs) will be run first as a pilot for six months.

After the conclusion of a successful pilot, the Scottish Parliament has continued to provide live BSL interpreting for First Minister’s Questions since 2019, with more than 190 sessions being broadcast on Scottish Parliament TV. Other parliamentary business, such as debates and ministerial statements, has been regularly covered with live and retrospective BSL interpreting, covering a wide range of topics such as child poverty, climate change, social security, the Scottish budget, independence, and other issues that hold relevance within the BSL community.

Ensure that all recordings of BSL-interpreted parliamentary business are freely available on our online channels.

All recordings of BSL-interpreted parliamentary business are promoted in the Scottish Parliament’s BSL Facebook Group and other Facebook BSL networks. The recordings can also be accessed through the Scottish Parliament TV’s online archive, which contains an extensive library of filmed BSL content going back to 2017.

Improve current material about the Parliament available in BSL, with the aim of enhancing understanding of the role of the Scottish Parliament, its processes, and procedures.

Since 2019, a varied collection of BSL resources, both onsite and online, has been produced and disseminated. These resources are designed to meet a variety of informational needs, such as giving information about the Scottish Parliament, promoting upcoming tours and events, and providing access to public consultations.

A few examples of products include:

  • Visiting the Scottish Parliament
  • A BSL User’s Guide
  • How Committees Work
  • Information about the Festival of Politics
  • How to contact an MSP in BSL
  • How to vote in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election
  • The role of MSPs
  • Petitioning the Scottish Parliament

Many of the resources can be accessed on the BSL Hub and they are also regularly promoted in the BSL Facebook Group.

Offer advanced training in BSL for members of staff interested in developing their skills, with the aim of increasing the overall number of parliamentary staff who hold BSL skills.

To help increase staff capacity in BSL, a baseline was developed first by presenting learning opportunities to staff with little or no skills in BSL, with two routes being actively offered. Staff were invited to learn BSL in person by attending the ‘BSL Learners’ Club’, which sees a deaf BSL tutor providing onsite lessons that run on a fortnightly basis. The club was established in July 2022 and currently sees an average attendance of ten staff, hailing from a wide range of offices in the Parliament. A second route was also offered for staff who preferred to learn BSL online, with sixty places for an accredited online course being allocated. Both routes upskill BSL to an introductory level, and it is anticipated there will be future training opportunities to learn BSL at more advanced levels. To complement both routes for learning BSL, the BCO has developed an internal resource called the ‘BSL Dictionary’ which contains a video glossary to support staff and MSPs to learn both parliamentary and everyday terms.

Improve the provision of information to BSL users on cultural and arts events (for example, Festival of Politics) taking place in the Parliament, including facilitating access to enable BSL users to take part as participants, audience members and professionals.

Since the start of the BSL Plan’s cycle, many cultural and art events hosted at the Parliament have been routinely provided with BSL interpreting, such as the annual Festival of Politics and World Press Photo exhibitions. The BCO ran polls on the BSL Facebook Group asking BSL users to choose which Festival of Politics events they wanted to see covered, with one particular year resulting in over 300 votes being cast. In 2020, the Festival of Politics programme included an event with a deaf BSL user on a panel for the first time. In 2023, the Scottish Parliament hosted its first Summit to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which saw the participation of a deaf panellist who uses BSL. For promoting cultural and arts events to the BSL community, the BCO regularly fronts BSL videos that are posted on the Scottish Parliament’s website and social media. Many of the displays and exhibits in the Scottish Parliament’s art exhibitions are provided with BSL videos, which are accessed through the use of QR codes.

Other work progressed that relates to BSL

Achievements in other areas of the BSL Plan include:

  • Carrying out outreach visits to schools that include BSL in their curriculum, with presentations on how the Parliament provides access to the BSL community, including a section on teaching pupils how to sign parliamentary terms in BSL.
  • Delivery of BSL-interpreted tours (on request) for BSL users, including visits from groups of deaf young people and independent groups, and also incorporating a presentation in BSL from the BCO.
  • Roll out of an app called the BSL Visitor Map which allows BSL users to self-navigate around the Scottish Parliament by watching BSL videos on their mobile or tablet devices.
  • Delivery of bespoke BSL Awareness sessions to several frontline and engagement teams.
  • Working in partnership with the Electoral Commission to produce BSL resources relating to the 2021 Scottish Parliament election and the 2022 Scottish council elections, specifically giving information on how to vote.
  • Consistent promotion of Contact Scotland BSL as a contact method for BSL users in Public Information and BSL publications including BSL-accessible consultations.
  • Support provided to MSPs to aid their communications with constituents through BSL.
  • Supporting MSPs to put forward questions in BSL for First Minister’s Questions.

How to share your views


To help us decide and shape what should go in the new BSL Plan, we want your views on 21 proposed actions that we think will help the Scottish Parliament to build on its commitment to improve access to parliamentary information and services for the BSL community. The actions are grouped under the Scottish Parliament’s core values of Stewardship, Inclusiveness, Excellence and Respect.

To share your views, please take part in this BSL accessible survey.

If you want to respond using a BSL video, please use a file transfer service and state clearly which question numbers you are referring to in your video. Please send your finalised BSL video file to

We would like to hear from you by 23:59 on Friday 23 August 2024.

The views you provide will be analysed and summarised by the Scottish Parliament's BSL Communities Officer. The information you provide will be used to inform the development of the BSL Plan. Individual responses will not be published. Instead, responses will be summarised in a report which will be published on the Parliament’s website.

Give us your views


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