Universities work together to make Scotland top place to study BSL

Four universities in Edinburgh are aiming to make the city a welcoming place for the deaf community.

Four Edinburgh universities work together to make Scotland top place to study British Sign Language Queen Margaret University

Four universities in Edinburgh are working together to make Scotland one of the top cities in the UK to study BSL, as well as becoming more welcoming to the deaf community.

The University of Edinburgh, Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh Napier and Heriot-Watt universities are signing a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’, which agrees a collaborative effort for them to further strengthen BSL and deaf studies education and research.

Each institute has an area of expertise in BSL and deaf studies, such as embedding BSL in particular degrees, growing a mixed deaf-hearing academic team, and implementing BSL development officers.

The formally signed agreement will show a commitment of the universities to continue to share resources to strengthen BSL education, and put Scotland at the forefront of development.

Representatives from the universities are set to come together at an event held in the National Museum of Scotland. 

The evening will celebrate the work that all four universities are engaged in and to formally recognise the potential of further strengthening BSL and deaf studies education and research. 

The launch of the universities’ collaborative identity as EdSign and the formal signing of a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ will provide an opportunity for each institution to showcase its individual areas of expertise. 

Sir Paul Grice, principal of QMU, said: “The BSL (Scotland) Act 2015 reinforces Scotland’s ability to position itself as a world-leading country in the provision of education relating to BSL. 

“But by promoting co-operation, collectively our four universities can help strengthen our ambitious plans for inclusive learning, teaching and research and improve the delivery of education and support for BSL users in Scotland and beyond.” 

Professor Richard Williams, principal and vice chancellor at Heriot-Watt University, said: “Even before the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015, Heriot-Watt University has had a long-standing commitment to support BSL teaching and the training of BSL/English interpreters since 1995, and with the growth of our mixed deaf-hearing academic team and associated researchers and PhD students we are now positioned internationally as a leading University in the fields of BSL and Deaf Studies. 

“As a Centre of Excellence in BSL we are keen to encourage more deaf students to attend university and, regardless of which university they choose, that it is a deaf and BSL friendly space. 

“This cooperative agreement across the four Edinburgh-based universities reinforces our commitment to BSL and Deaf Studies, and to making Scotland the best place for deaf and BSL users to live, work, visit and study. 

Professor Kim Graham, provost of Edinburgh University, said: “This important agreement cements the four Edinburgh universities’ joint ambition to continue to lead the development of BSL and deaf studies.”

Professor Andrea Nolan, principal and vice chancellor of Edinburgh Napier added: “We have welcomed the opportunity to make Edinburgh Napier more accessible to deaf students and staff, and hope this milestone BSL agreement will help to maintain and develop our inclusive culture.  

“We look forward to working with our fellow Edinburgh-based institutions to improve the university experience of BSL users. By co-operating and sharing our knowledge and resources, this will help us all advance the provision of learning, teaching and research for those who rely on it.”

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