British Sign Language


British Sign Language

Actors taking sign language to the stage

13 November 2017 (The Scotsman)

A group of actors from the UK’s only degree course for deaf performers are taking their show on the road for the first time this week, with the hope that it will challenge public perceptions. 

The production, which blends British Sign Language (BSL) with spoken English, will be performed by students from the Glasgow-based Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The group of ten actors are all studying Performance in British Sign Language and English, a three-year degree course which is the only one of its kind in the UK.

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British Sign Language will count as 'foreign language' for university applicants

7 August 2017 (TES)

A leading university has announced plans to recognise British Sign Language (BSL) qualifications in its entry requirements.

University College London (UCL) said that in future, BSL will be considered as meeting the institution's modern foreign language (MFL) requirement.

The university is the only UK institution that requires all of its UK undergraduates to hold at least a C grade at GCSE in another language or to sign up for courses as part of their degree.

It has now announced that it will recognise sign language as part of the requirement, saying it hopes the decision will increase awareness and access to the language.

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Understanding the amazing complexity of sign language

21 June 2017 (The Conversation)

Most people are familiar with sign language, the system that deaf people use to communicate. What fewer may know is that there are many different sign languages around the world, just as there are many different spoken languages.

So how does the grammar of sign language work?

Unlike in spoken languages, in which grammar is expressed through sound-based signifiers for tense, aspect, mood and syntax (the way we organise individual words), sign languages use hand movements, sign order as well as body and facial cues to create grammar. This is called non-manual activity.

To find out whether these cues are comprehensible to signers and non-signers of a country, my team of deaf and hearing linguists and translators conducted two studies. The results, which will be published in July, demonstrate the incredible complexity of sign language.

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Pupil's sign language address to Scottish Parliament

9 May 2017 (BBC)

A profoundly deaf Falkirk High School pupil has delivered the Scottish Parliament's Time for Reflection in sign language.

Jemma Skelding, 12, is the youngest person to deliver the address, which is the parliament's first item of business of the week in the chamber.

Miss Skelding said she was pleased be at Holyrood ahead of next week's Deaf Awareness Week.

She told MSPs her parents and an older sister were also deaf.

Miss Skelding shared her experiences of using sign language in the address, which was translated by Mary McDevitt.

She said she grew up using sign language at home and thought everyone could use it, until she attended her first nursery.

Miss Skelding said that her next nursery taught everyone sign language half a day a week.

She said: "This was a really happy time for me.

"I was with my friends and I just felt like everyone else, we played together and we laughed a lot, we even had special sign names for each other."

Miss Skelding said things changed in P3, and by the following year she was "unhappy and felt very lonely."

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More sign language classes are to be held in Moffat due to demand

4 May 2017 (DNG24)

Resident Fiona Stewart, who is herself deaf, will lead the four sessions, starting on the evening of Wednesday May 17 and also running the 24 and 31 and June 7.

It comes after she hosted a successful initial introduction to British Sign Language (BSL) course earlier this year, attended by 50 people.

It was initiated by Catherine Jackson, whose children wanted to learn BSL.

She said: “The class was so popular that we ended up running two groups, both over four sessions. And there’s still a waiting list and requests for us to run more.”

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Launch of British Sign Language (BSL) Bookbug session in Fife

25 April 2017 (Fife Today)

Bookbug – a free story, song and rhyme session for babies, toddlers, pre-school children and their families is set to launch Fife’s debut British Sign Language friendly group at Kirkcaldy Libraries next month.

All deaf parents with hearing children, hearing parents with deaf children and deaf parents with deaf children are invited to book a place.

Depending on uptake, the hope is to continue these specialised sessions on a monthly basis.

The event, on May 15 at 10.30am, is part of Bookbug Week 2017, which takes place between May 15-21 in celebration of ‘Bookbug’s Big Giggle’. This fun and playful theme will inspire children and adults alike to feel good by sharing songs and rhymes.

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Consultation on the British Sign Language (BSL) National Plan

1 March 2017 (Scottish Government)

This consultation on the Draft British Sign Language (BSL) National Plan seeks to gather your views about the proposed actions. The plan has been produced in collaboration with the BSL National Advisory Group.

The consultation is open from 1 March to 31 May 2017.

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Sign language degree opens opportunities

17 November 2016 (Edinburgh News)

A chronic UK-wide shortage of British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters led Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh to launch Scotland’s first BSL degree course in 2012 to equip students with the skills they require for a career in translation and interpretation.

The first cohort graduated in June with many going straight into jobs as a result of the high demand for BSL interpreters.

Many interpreters are self employed, working freelance and using agencies to source work within the deaf community. Others go into salaried employment, as Sam Rojas, 21, did with North East Sensory Services (NESS) in Aberdeen after graduating from Heriot-Watt.

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Celebrate National Poetry Day!

6 October 2016 (SCILT)

Today is National Poetry Day and the theme this year is 'Messages'. To mark the occasion we've created our own triolet poem in French on this theme.

You can see the poem on the National Poetry Day webpage of our MTOT website. We hope it will provide some inspiration for those taking part in the Mother Tongue Other Tongue competition in Scotland! There are lots of other poetry resources on our website too. So take a look and get creative!

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Channel 4 to launch UK's first sign language-only TV ad

6 September 2016 (The Guardian)

Channel 4 is to air what is believed to be the first TV ad ever to use sign language as part of a campaign to promote diversity as it kicks off coverage of the Rio Paralympic Games.

The 30-second ad, which will not initially air with subtitles, leaving most viewers unable to understand the commercial, is one of three created by chocolate maker Mars to promote its Maltesers brand and champion diversity.

Mars was the winner of a competition held by Channel 4, called Superhumans Wanted, offering £1m in free TV ad space to the ad agency, advertiser, organisation or production company submitting the strongest campaign featuring disability and disabled talent.

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Deaf awareness week

2 May 2016 (ITV)

ITV and Coronation Street have been working with ITV SignPost to celebrate Deaf Awareness Week. Sign language will feature in scenes in the Rovers, bought to life by signing actors Emma Wilding and Haylie Jones on Friday 6 May. Throughout the week, Emmerdale and ITV's Daytime will also be featuring sign-language on their shows.

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Sign into Elderbank

29 April 2016 (BBC, The L.A.B Scotland)

In this video to highlight national deaf awareness week, pupils from Elderbank Primary school share their signing skills and offer top tips about deaf awareness.

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Scotland becomes first part of UK to recognise signing for deaf as official language

18 October 2015 (The Herald)

Campaigners have hailed new legislation which will recognise signing as an official language in Scotland as a step towards breaking the “brick ceiling” which the deaf community faces in everyday life.

The British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill, which is due to become law in the next few weeks, will see Scotland become the first part of the UK to recognise signing for the deaf as an official language.

It means the Scottish Government and public bodies will have a responsibility to promote the language and consider how services can be provided in British Sign Language (BSL).

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National roll-out for sign language interpreting service

2 March 2015 (Scottish Government)

A nationwide roll-out of a new online interpreting service will allow deaf people across Scotland to use sign language to contact public sector services.

The Scottish Government has announced today the extension of the current NHS 24 online British Sign Language (BSL) Video Relay Interpreting Service pilot to the rest of the public sector in Scotland.

The new Scottish Government-funded service, contactSCOTLAND, will mean deaf people can now speak to public services, such as their local council, doctor’s surgery and the Scottish Government, without the need for someone to call on their behalf.

This project is unique in the UK and is the first nationally funded public sector Video Relay Service.

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BSL and Makaton signing classes for Highland pupils

25 January 2015 (The Scotsman)

Nursery and primary school pupils in the Highlands will be the first in Scotland to be taught sign language as part of the new curriculum.

Smithton Primary, on the outskirts of Inverness, will teach youngsters both British Sign Language (BSL) and Makaton – a form of signing for those with special educational needs or communication disorders that is popularly used by Mr Tumble on the CBeebies show Something Special.

The move at the school has been welcomed by the British Deaf Association and the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters.

It has come about after the Scottish Government’s announcement that all primary age children should have two additional languages as well as their first language.

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New job profile on the SCILT website

7 October 2014 (SCILT)

Communicating in another language doesn't necessarily mean you have to speak it.  Confused?  All will be revealed by interpreter, Paul Belmonte, in the latest job profile added to our website.

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Why we should all be more open to interpretation

15 August 2014 (TESS)

Professor Graham Turner is playing devil’s advocate in a fresh bid to persuade the Scottish government to give BSL parity with other languages. More than 12,500 people in Scotland use BSL at home but fewer than 100 interpreters are registered nationwide. An interactive, one-off show, Speech Sucks: the Future Signs, is compèred by comedian Susan Morrison, with interpreters translating her words into BSL and doing the reverse for Professor Turner and his Heriot-Watt colleague.

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SQA announces new partnership with SignVideo

24 March 2014 (SQA)

SQA has partnered with SignVideo to enable deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users to contact them conveniently in their own language.

A BSL Live link is now available on the contact page of the SQA website.

BSL users, with access to a computer, a webcam and a broadband connection, are now able to connect to a SignVideo interpreter instantly and make a free BSL interpreted call to the SQA Customer Support Team.

Professor takes vow of silence in support of deaf community

21 March 2014 (Times Higher Education)

Graham Turner at Heriot-Watt raises awareness for Sign Language Week.

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Signing should be classed as foreign language for GCSE

17 June 2013 (BBC News)

(Applies to England) Ministers are facing calls to make British Sign Language count as a modern foreign language at GCSE level. A modern language is defined in England as one that can be spoken or written - so BSL cannot qualify at the moment.  But deaf awareness charity Signature points out that sign language is included on the education curriculum in Sweden, Norway and Finland.

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