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Helping BSL users access services

Census information is helping to keep British Sign Language (BSL) users in Scotland connected with vital services. 

Charity deafscotland used census information about BSL use in the population to make the case to NHS 24 for the development of a pilot initiative.  That initiative has since grown into the contactSCOTLAND-BSL service.

The service offers a video relay service to help BSL users communicate with service providers like public authorities and voluntary organisations.

What the census said

The charity used data from the 2011 census to identify the number of people who were identified as using British Sign Language at home. They also researched those who reported deafness, broken down by age group, council area and health board.

They then compared this with other sources of evidence to project the number of people affected by deafness across Scotland from 2018 onwards to 2038.

“Without census data, we would not have been able to secure funding from the Scottish Government"

Janis McDonald, deafscotland

Making use of the data

Janis McDonald from deafscotland said: “By analysing this information, we were able to develop a business case with NHS 24 for what has become the Scottish Government-funded contactSCOTLAND-BSL service.

“Using the video relay service means that BSL users can call any service provider, including contacting the GP, making an appointment at the hairdresser or booking an MOT.”

Feeling the benefits

Janis added: “Without census data, we would not have been able to secure funding from the Scottish Government to set up contactSCOTLAND-BSL.

“It was very valuable and is making a real difference to the lives of BSL users in Scotland.”

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