BSL National Advisory Group Appointed

15 March 2016

BSL (Scotland) Act gains momentum - National Advisory Group members announced.

A new expert advisory group has been appointed to support the implementation of legislation which will improve the way public services meet the needs of Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users. This follows the introduction of the historic BSL (Scotland) Act 2015 last September, which recognised BSL as a language of Scotland, and will result in the first BSL Action Plan. Eight Deaf BSL users were recruited, as well as a hearing parent of a Deaf child, to work alongside public bodies - such as Creative Scotland, COSLA and the NHS - to support the implementation of the Act.

Minister for Scotland's Languages, Dr Alasdair Allan, announced the names today. He said: "It was a very competitive process, and we are very pleased with the new members we have recruited to help make BSL a key consideration for the public sector in Scotland. These people come from a range of backgrounds. Their skills and experience, and first-hand knowledge of the barriers Deaf BSL users face will play an important role in developing Scotland's first BSL National Plan. We're determined to ensure the new BSL legislation makes a real, practical difference to the lives of Deaf BSL users in Scotland. I am certain the BSL representatives we have appointed will ensure we do just that."

The representatives are:

Alison Marshall was born Deaf and began to lose her sight at age 12 with Usher Syndrome. Alison volunteers for 'Usher's Social' - bringing together Deafblind people from all over Scotland

Andrew Kay recently returned from working in the civil service in England to his native Scotland to champion BSL as a native language - a first language for many Deaf people.

Brian McCann works as an equality and diversity training officer for a local authority, and is the father of five Deaf children who use BSL. He said: "I am delighted at being accepted to represent Deaf BSL users, there are so many facets within the Deaf world and I think NAG will be a perfect opportunity to showcase them, promoting awareness and accommodate much sought after resolutions."

Charlotte Addison works at an Additional Supported Learning school in Glasgow. She comes from a Deaf family, has a Deaf husband, and three hearing children.

Debra Wherrett grew up using BSL, but as her vision deteriorated, she began using Hands on BSL. She teaches Deafblind Communication and Deafblind Awareness.

Leona Glennie has used BSL all her life, and is losing her sight due to Usher Syndrome. She works for a Deaf charity in Aberdeen.

Moira Ross grew up with a hearing family, is married to a Deaf BSL husband and has two boys, one of whom is Deaf. Moira is studying drama at university. She said: "I am surprised and pleased because I fully support the Deaf community having access to resources and improving services. I am also excited that over the next two years we will hopefully make a lot of changes for Deaf people in Scotland."

Natalie Greenall - has vast experience volunteering with Deaf children and young people with additional support needs. Natalie is a new mum to a Deaf boy.

Hearing parent of a Deaf child, Lesley Ann Martin, uses BSL and works for a local authority as a Pupil Support Assistant. Lesley has devoted 10 years of her time for a local Deaf children's charity.

The two remaining places will be taken by Deaf people who are under 18 years old, and will be filled later this month. All members will be appointed to the group for two years, and will oversee the development of the first BSL National Plan.

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