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Moray councillor pushes for British Sign Language opportunities in region's schools

By Alan Beresford

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A MORAY councillor has highlighted the importance of promoting British Sign Language (BSL) as a second language option for students in Moray.

Councillor Sonya Warren (inset) has highlighted some of the many benefits of learning BSL.
Councillor Sonya Warren (inset) has highlighted some of the many benefits of learning BSL.

Councillor Sonya Warren (Buckie, SNP), who is the SNP’s spokesperson on Moray Council, recently tabled a question to the local authority seeking information on what work had been carried out in relation to BSL in Moray’s schools.

She said: “There are huge cognitive benefits to learning a second language. Learning BSL has the added benefit of not just enabling communication with deaf people but also people with dementia and other cognitive conditions.

“I welcome that we will see the Moray BSL plan later this year, which I want to see provide BSL learning opportunities for schools and students right across our region.”

She added that the British Sign Language Act 2015 is an Act of the Scottish Parliament to promote the use of British Sign Language to include the provision for preparation and provision for authorities to prepare and publish their own British Sign Language plans.

In response to her query, the council told Councillor Warren: "We currently have an Acting PT Sensory Education Services who was not involved in this piece of work which was being led by the previous PT and the Equalities officer.

"The existing team are currently delivering BSL training in two primary schools as well as upskilling the team in BSL also. This will increase the sensory team’s ability to support education staff across schools and ELC settings to more effectively support children who are deaf or hard of hearing. The sensory education team offer Stage 2 Deaf awareness training as part of our Supporting all Learners training offer.

"The team are unaware of any schools offering BSL as a second language however the training will raise awareness of it as a second language option and the team are happy to support any schools who would be interested in this. Moray College deliver courses in BSL at SCQF levels 3-6 which offers the opportunity to work in partnership.

"The equalities officer is currently engaging with a number of BSL users to develop the council’s BSL plan for next year. There is currently a focus on improving access rather than strategic outcomes. There is a plan to invite BSL users to various council services, to begin with the contact centre.

"There is also an intention to involve users in consultations, especially regarding the budget and the cultural quarter. There is work ongoing to discuss BSL interpretation for the Out of Darkness Theatre Group’s next Christmas panto."

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