Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users and people with Acquired Profound Hearing Loss1 have different communication needs. This position statement sets out what we believe should be in place to meet these needs. Under the Equality Act 20102 it is unlawful to discriminate by offering a lower standard of service to deaf people.
Deaf and deafblind BSL users – Scottish Council on Deafness recommends the following:
1. SCoD advocates full and official recognition of BSL and the right to use BSL in Scotland.
2. The use of BSL should not be a reason to exclude Deaf/deafblind people from any activities or services, education and employment.
3. SCoD supports the right of Deaf children to have early and full exposure to BSL, and be educated as a bilingual and/or multilingual person, especially in the teaching of reading and writing. BSL should be offered as an exam subject in secondary schools.
4. British Sign Language should be the primary language of instruction for academic subjects for all Deaf children who want it.
5. Proficiency in BSL to a minimum of accredited Level 3 must be a standard for successful completion of training courses for all teachers of Deaf children.
6. Staff working with deaf children should learn and be profi cient in BSL to a minimum of accredited Level 2 and should have the equivalent of accredited deaf awareness training.3
7. Parents/guardians, brothers/sisters and the main carers of a Deaf child should have free access to BSL classes.
8. BSL should be included as an academic subject in the curriculum of deaf and hearing students and courses, which train teachers of deaf children.
People with an acquired profound hearing loss
Most people with an acquired profound hearing loss will have as their first language a spoken language, for example, English. Children who become deaf once they have begun to learn English should have the opportunity to carry on with their studies, but should also be offered tuition in BSL should they or their parents/guardians wish it.
Scottish Council on Deafness recommends:
1. People who are deafened should be given the opportunity to learn to lipread as part of their rehabilitation. Classes should be provided without cost to the
2. As part of their rehabilitation, people who are deafened should be informed about the communication support that is available and how they can access this.
3. People who acquire a profound hearing loss should be offered counselling support to help them adjust to their hearing loss. This counselling should be provided by a deaf aware counsellor.
4. All video and film media should come with captions so that people who are deafened have the same opportunity to view the content as those who can hear.
5. When providing services to people who are deafened, providers must ask the person what their communication support needs are and ensure that these needs are catered for by booking professional registered communication support.4 It is up to the service provider to pay for the necessary communication support.
1 See our Information Sheet on Definitions of Deafness
2 For more about this Act, see our Information Sheet entitled Equality Act 2010
3 See our Information Sheet on Deaf Awareness Training
4 More in our Information Sheet on Communication Support