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British Sign Language (BSL)

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What is British Sign Language (BSL)?

British Sign Language (BSL) is the preferred language of deaf people in the UK for whom English may be a second or third language

BSL is a language in its own right, with its own grammar, syntax and vocabulary. It has its own dialects and rich variation.

BSL users refers to people whose first or preferred language is BSL, including those who receive the language in a tactile form due to sight loss.

BSL Local Action Plan 2024-2029

Following publication of the most recent British Sign Language (BSL) National Plan 2023 to 2029 by the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council has been working to develop its Local Action Plan.

The Plan is now available -  Glasgow British Sign Language (BSL) Local Action Plan 2024 to 2029 (PDF) [395KB]

The BSL version of the Plan is also available

BSL Plan introduction
Across all our services
Family Support, Early Learning and Childcare
School education
Training, work and Social Security
Health (including Social Care), mental health and wellbeing
Culture and the Arts


Glasgow City Council intends for its Action Plan to be a document that reflects the needs of the deaf community.  As such we expect our Plan to change throughout its timescale as we continue to reflect the work going on within the city. 

Glasgow Context

BSL is the first or preferred language of some deaf people. It is also used by many people who are not deaf, for example, relatives and friends of deaf people and sign language interpreters.

There are currently approximately 1,850 active users of BSL in Glasgow City according to the Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership Demographic and Needs Profile. The Centre for Sensory Impairment Partnership (CSIP) estimates it might be as high as 2,000 active users. There is also a significant support network who may not necessarily be captured within official figures and service estimates.

What Are We Doing To Promote And Support The Language?

The British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015 and the British Sign Language National Plan 2017 - 2023 required public bodies in Scotland to publish local action plans by October 2018 and on a six yearly basis thereafter, showing how they will promote and support British Sign Language (BSL). This is the first BSL National Plan of its kind in the UK.

Glasgow Council Family has developed a plan around some key themes identified by the Scottish Government, Service Users, Services and Partners; outlining key areas for action over the next 6 years;

  • Across all Services
  • Family Support, Early Learning and Childcare
  • School Education
  • Training, Work and Social Security
  • Health (including social care), Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Culture and the Arts
  • Justice
  • Democracy

The Scottish Government will also require that Glasgow publish an interim progress report in 2020 based on the local plan, which will help to refine some of the actions we will deliver by 2023.

Glasgow British Sign Language (BSL) Action Plan 

Glasgow BSL Action Plan Video Links:




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Last modified on 04 July 2024

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