Published: 02/04/2017 09:00 - Updated: 02/04/2017 08:50

Dingwall Academy's pioneering sign language work hailed at Holyrood

Maree Todd MSP: 'Shining example'
Maree Todd MSP: 'Shining example'

DINGWALL Academy’s leadership in promoting British Sign Language (BSL) has been applauded by the Scottish Parliament – after the school was highly praised by Strathpeffer-based MSP, Maree Todd.

She used the recent debate on the consultation on the Draft BSL National Plan to highlight the initiative of Dingwall Academy’s unit. During her speech, she used BSL to welcome former Dingwall Academy pupil, Caitlin Bogan, who was watching the debate from the viewing gallery.

The MSP later said: “We should all be proud of what is being done in the Highlands. Dingwall Academy is one of the few schools to deliver a BSL unit – all students in first year, including my son Gregor this year, take BSL classes as a taster along with other languages, including French, Gaelic and German.

“Dingwall Academy is a shining example of what deaf children can achieve with the right support.

“This is where Caitlin first had the opportunity to study BSL, which, for her and others, has led on to further education and, hopefully, career opportunities.”

She added: “Dingwall Academy sees the value of BSL – they recognise that deaf students need to study their own language as much as English speakers need to study English. Every young person in the school is valued and recognised as having needs.

“Dingwall Academy wants to be inclusive – they don’t just want BSL to be an add-on, but for it to be embedded”

The Scottish Parliament has already shown leadership in promoting equal rights for deaf people and Scotland was the first part of the UK to recognise signing for the deaf as an official language. As a result, the Scottish Government and public bodies now have a responsibility to promote the language and make public services accessible for BSL users.

The recent debate involved the first draft BSL National Plan – the first time the Scottish Government has published a bilingual consultation in BSL and English.

Meanwhile, people whose first or preferred language is BSL are encouraged to respond to the consultation and the publication of the final version of the plan is in October this year.

According to the most recent census figures, there are about 13,000 people in Scotland who use sign language at home.

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