Scottish Borders Council has launched a British Sign Language (BSL) plan, developed with the local BSL community, Borders College and NHS Borders.
The plan identifies the actions that the council will take over the next six years to comply with the national BSL (Scotland) Act.
This includes raising staff awareness of BSL and the contactScotland-BSL service and also ensuring BSL users are able to actively engage with the council and in democratic and cultural events.
Councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol, SBC’s Champion for the Deaf Community, said: “Many years ago, I chose to learn BSL (level one) at Borders College. I may not use it every day, but it has enabled me to speak to my BSL friends and colleagues without a barrier.
“The Scottish Government aims to make Scotland the best place in the world for BSL users to live, learn, work and visit. As a council, we need to ensure that all residents of the Scottish Borders are able to access our services seamlessly.
“While the number of BSL users may be small, we have to provide parity of service to them. A language barrier should never be the reason someone cannot live actively in their community. This plan is our part in helping to make that happen.”
The BSL (Scotland) Act requires all public bodies to produce a BSL Plan that is consistent with the Scottish Government’s overarching BSL National Plan 2017-2023. This must be done in consultation with BSL users and those who represent them.
SBC’s plan was developed in conjunction with local BSL users, including through a joint engagement event in July with Borders College and NHS Borders, which are developing their own plans.
Photo: Councillor Thornton-Nicol and Jenni Craig, Service Director – Customer and Communities, celebrate the launch of the plan with a round of applause in BSL.