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Edinburgh universities unite in pledge to improve British sign language provision

Four universities will sign an agreement to work more closely to improve BSL and deaf studies (Queen Margaret University/PA)
Four universities will sign an agreement to work more closely to improve BSL and deaf studies (Queen Margaret University/PA)

Four universities in Edinburgh will sign a formal agreement to work together to improve British sign language (BSL) provision in higher education.

An event will be held in the National Museum of Scotland on Friday to mark international sign languages day, with representatives from Queen Margaret, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier and Heriot Watt universities.

It will showcase the work the institutions are doing to formally recognise potential collaboration areas, with a memorandum of understanding to be signed to further strengthen BSL and deaf studies education.

Sir Paul Grice, principal of Queen Margaret University, said: “We have been determined to excel in our individual areas of expertise – at Queen Margaret University, that has been to provide online postgraduate-level education which upskills registered sign language interpreters, helping them to further develop their practice in their specialist areas; as well as embedding BSL into Queen Margaret University’s primary teaching and paramedic science degrees.”

Professor Richard Williams, principal and vice-chancellor at Heriot-Watt, said: “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 co-operative 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 the University of Edinburgh, said: “This important agreement cements the four Edinburgh universities’ joint ambition to continue to lead the development of BSL and deaf studies.

“The University of Edinburgh is proud to have a comprehensive BSL plan, with an experienced BSL development officer working with colleagues to drive this forward at pace.”

Professor Andrea Nolan, principal & vice-chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University, said: “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.”