Queen Margaret University launches British Sign Language

By Press Office

Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh is amongst the first of the higher education institutions in Scotland to launch a British Sign Language (BSL) Action Plan. QMU’s move to develop a supportive BSL-friendly culture for staff and students will contribute to Scotland’s ambition to become the best place in the world for BSL users to live, work and visit.

QMU’s BSL action plan demonstrates the University’s commitment to creating a BSL friendly culture that supports students and staff, and builds on the institution’s existing expertise.  Frankie McLean, a BSL user, has joined QMU as a lecturer to help develop new levels of awareness of BSL at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels across the University community.

One exciting development of the plan is to embed BSL as an additional language in the new Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programme commencing in September 2019.  The aim is that graduates from the BA (Hons) in Education Studies (Primary) will be able to use their BSL skills and the ability to share this language in their work as primary school teachers.

Queen Margaret University has also responded to the growing demand for courses from BSL interpreters that will allow them to become more specialised in their professional areas such as healthcare, justice, education, and the arts. The University has developed the UK’s first fully online MSc programme to upskill registered BSL/English interpreters, allowing interpreters from all over the country to access specialist postgraduate education. 

All these initiatives are designed to ultimately benefit BSL users and deaf people, through enhancing the awareness, skills and attitudes of the professionals who will work with them in the future.

Iliyan Stefanov, Head of Student Services at QMU explained: “We have worked tirelessly across a broad section of staff and departments to develop a robust BSL action plan. We are delighted to launch our first action plan and to be amongst the first of the public bodies to take action to meet the goals set out by the Scottish Government’s BSL National Plan, published last year.

“With world renowned research in speech and hearing sciences and an international reputation across the health sciences professions, QMU is well placed to embed awareness of BSL into a broad range of professional training.  This is supplemented by our focus on interpreters through the MSc in BSL/English Interpreting (post registration). Having strengthened our draft plan following our consultation phase, we will now embed the plan into our inclusive learning and teaching strategies. We look forward to seeing the impact of our plan on the students and staff and to contributing to Scotland’s aspirations to support BSL users.”

BSL version of this press release

Link to BSL Action Plan 

BSL version of BSL Action Plan on YouTube  


Notes to Editor

For further media information please contact Lynne Russell, Communications Manager at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, E: lrussell@qmu.ac.uk T: 0131 474 0000.


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