BSL

The Beginning

1428-1486

Princess Joanna of Scotland reported to have communicated using sign language interpreters

1760

Opening of Thomas Braidwood’s Academy for the Deaf in Edinburgh, the first school for the Deaf in the world, which saw the education of many famous Deaf sign language users

1880

The Second International Congress on Education of the Deaf, held in Milan, infamously passes several resolutions declaring that sign language was inferior to Oralism, and ought to be banned. This leads to the widespread suppression of sign language in many Deaf schools throughout the world

1889

A Royal Commission set up by the British Government decides that the ‘oral method’ should be used for every Deaf child

1890

The British Deaf and Dumb Association (BDA as from 1971) is founded in response to the influence of the Milan Congress resolutions

1893

The Elementary Education (Deaf and Blind Children) Act is passed. This accepted, in full, the recommendations of the Milan Congress, leading to an era of Oralism in British Deaf schools

1895

The Guide to Chirology pamphlets are first published by Harry Ash (1863-1934). These ran through until 1920 – it is known as the first Deaf Awareness Movement

 

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1924

The first International Silent Games (later World Games for the Deaf and now Deaflympics) are held in Paris (Paralympics was founded in 1960)

 

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1944

The National Deaf Children’s Society is formed, coinciding with a new Education Act 1944

1975

 

Working at Moray House in Edinburgh, Mary Brennan was the first person to propose the name British Sign Language (BSL) be used for the sign language of the British Deaf Community

1980

 

Words in Hand: A Structural Analysis of the Signs of British Sign Language was published by Mary Brennan, Martin D. Colville and Lillian K. Lawson

1983

Jock Young, who hails from Scotland, becomes the first Deaf Chair with Murray Holmes (also Scottish) as Deaf Vice-Chair of the BDA

1985

The International Congress on the Education of the Deaf, held in Manchester, saw what Deaf historians regard as the ‘true birth’ of the campaign for the use and the recognition of British Sign Language. Deaf delegates and international Deaf groups abandon the Congress and join to organise an ‘Alternative Conference’ at Manchester’s Deaf Centre

1990


 

The Patron of the BDA, Princess Diana gave a speech in BSL at the Centenary Congress and made another surprise visit at Durham University to meet Deaf BSL Tutors, again, communicating in BSL

 

1992

 

The ‘Dictionary of BSL/English’, the first BSL vocabulary book, was published

1990

Deaf Studies programmes are established at the University of Central Lancashire (Preston) and University of Wolverhampton to encourage people to obtain degrees in British Sign Language related subjects

1995

Bencie Woll becomes the first Professor of Sign Language and Deaf Studies in the UK, at City University, London

1999

The first British Sign Language march of the Campaign for the Recognition of BSL takes place in London and began series of marches for a number of years

2000

BSL was on the Scottish Parliamentary agenda in a debate based on a motion submitted by Winnie Ewing on 16 February

 

Read it here

2000

Lilian K. Lawson became Director of the Scottish Council on Deafness in June and led the BSL recognition movement; with the Cross Party Group on Deafness has its first meeting in November

2003

The British Government finally recognised BSL as a language in its own right on 18 March

 

Read it here

2005

Dr. Mary Brennan passed away on 23 June

 

In Memoriam

2008

Scottish Council on Deafness (SCoD) prepared a briefing paper for the Cross Party Group on Deafness asking for a BSL (Scotland) Act similar to the Gaelic Language Act 2005

2010

MSP Cathie Craigie was prepared to put forward a Member’s Bill and launched a consultation process to see if there was support for a BSL (Scotland) Act. The consultation was from 9 July to 29 October and showed there was overwhelming support for a BSL (Scotland) Act

2010

The 21st International Congress on the Education of the Deaf held in Vancouver, Canada passes a resounding resolution that rejects the motions passed back in Milan in 1880

 

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2011

Census 2011 recorded a total of 12,533 people aged 3 and over using BSL at home

2012

Cathie Craigie passed on the baton to fellow MSP Mark Griffin to take the Bill forward. A second consultation period ran from 27 July to 7 November. The consultations were available in BSL

2014

The BSL (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 29 October. The Education and Culture Committee set up a Facebook group in November to encourage BSL users to give their views on the BSL (Scotland) Bill

 

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2015

Stage 1 Debate in the Scottish Parliament on 5 May

 

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2015

Stage 2 Debate in the Scottish Parliament on 2 June

 

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2015

Stage 3 Debate in the Scottish Parliament on 17 September. The BSL Scotland) Bill was passed unanimously

 

Watch it here

2015

The BSL Bill received Royal Assent on 22 October and officially became the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015

 

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2016

Two documentaries produced for BSL Zone titled ‘The Battle for BSL’ and ‘Cheers for BSL’ were transmitted

 

The Battle for BSL

Cheers for BSL

2016

A National Advisory Group (NAG) is established by the Scottish Government to support the development of the first BSL National Plan on 11 March. The NAG membership is made up of representatives from Public Bodies and members of the Deaf Community

2017

 

Consultation on the BSL National Plan launched on 23 March

2017

The BSL National Plan was launched on 24 October. The first time a National Plan has been published bilingually in BSL and English Ministerial Statement in the Scottish Parliament

 

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BSL Version
English Version

2017

United Nations declared 23 September as International Day of Sign Languages

 

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