University of the West of Scotland (UWS) has unveiled a revised British Sign Language (BSL) Plan – prioritising accessibility for BSL users and fostering a more inclusive learning and working environment.

Aligning with the Scottish Government’s ambition to make Scotland the best place in the world for deaf people to live, work, and visit, the updated plan signifies an important step forward in UWS’s journey towards becoming a truly inclusive learning environment.

The revised plan, revealed on Friday, builds on UWS initial 2018-2024 strategy, and will be in place until 2030, demonstrates UWS’ commitment to fostering a diverse and vibrant academic community where all students can thrive.

Astrid Smallenbroek, UWS’s Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Consultant said: “At UWS, we are dedicated to creating a welcoming and supportive environment for all. Our BSL Plan reflects this commitment by ensuring BSL users have equal access to information, services, and opportunities within the University.”

Developed through extensive collaboration with the Deaf community, the UWS BSL Plan outlines key actions across several priority areas. These areas directly address the needs of BSL users in an educational setting and align with the Scottish Government’s national goals:

  • UWS will enhance BSL accessibility through staff training programs, improved website features, and the promotion of BSL interpreting services for students and staff.
  • The plan focuses on identifying BSL users during the application process and fostering partnerships with local schools to provide BSL-focused information sessions. UWS will also ensure BSL interpreters working with students receive necessary academic support materials.
  • UWS is committed to providing tailored career guidance and appropriate support for BSL student placements, equipping them for success in their chosen career paths.
  • Recognising the importance of mental health support, UWS will ensure BSL users have access to the Employee Assistance Programme and offer BSL interpreting for student counselling services upon request.
  • UWS recognises the importance of data in informing decision-making. The plan includes utilising BSL user data to improve service provision and analysing existing data to identify gaps and establish baselines for progress measurement.

Dr Khadija Mohammed, Associate Dean of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion at UWS, said: “This revised BSL Plan demonstrates UWS’ ongoing commitment to inclusivity and accessibility.

“By implementing these actions, we aim to create a more welcoming environment for BSL users within the University and contribute to Scotland’s goal of becoming a leader in supporting all BSL users.

“We believe that a truly inclusive university is one that acknowledges, nurtures and celebrates diversity, and empowers all students to reach their full potential, regardless of their communication.”

The UWS BSL Plan represents a significant step forward in fostering a more inclusive university community. By prioritising accessibility and support services, UWS is well-positioned to empower BSL users and celebrate BSL within the university setting and can be read here.

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