New short course for people who interact with sign language users

By Press Office

If you want to improve your understanding of how best to work with sign language users, now is your chance. Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh is running a short online course that will help improve people’s awareness and understanding when working with users of BSL (British Sign Language).  

With around 50,000 to 70,000 people in the UK using British Sign Language, there has never been a more important time for individuals to learn how best to communicate and interact with BSL users, helping ensure they have equality of access to the services they need. 

Queen Margaret University’s new six-week on-line course, which can be studied from anywhere across Scotland and the UK, is perfect for those who want to gain confidence in their communications with BSL users. So, whether you work in retail, social services, the education sector, healthcare, justice or run your own business, the online course will help you understand the needs of sign language users and how best to demonstrate good practice when meeting or working with them. The course would be particularly helpful for anyone with responsibility for creating a strategic plan for BSL within their organisation (in relation to the BSL Scotland Act 2015). 

Scotland has made significant inroads in creating greater visibility of BSL in recent years and championing equality of access to information and services for BSL users. Queen Margaret University has played an important part in raising awareness of BSL through its postgraduate courses for experienced sign language interpreters and by including the teaching of uniquely tailored BSL provision within its degrees in paramedic science and primary teaching.  

The online course will be delivered by specialist tutors  Yvonne Waddell and Dr Rachel Mapson, who have real world experience as interpreters working across the public and private sectors. The team has also ensured the course incorporates significant information of lived experience and knowledge from deaf sign language contributors. With a wealth of experience in BSL interpreting and education, Yvonne and Rachel have been the driving force behind Queen Margaret University’s work in BSL, helping ensure Edinburgh’s universities are at the forefront of embedding BSL into higher education in Scotland and the UK, and improving the delivery of support for BSL users. 

Yvonne Waddell said: “We are delighted to offer this fully online flexible course that can be accessed from anywhere in the UK and which can be studied at times that fit into people’s busy lifestyles. It is important to note that the focus of the six-week course is about ensuring equality of access to services, and not about learning sign language. 

“We look forward to building a group of people who are better equipped to work with members of the deaf community who use sign language and with interpreters who work with deaf sign language users. In just six weeks, we are confident that this course will help equip participants with the skills to ensure interactions with sign language users go smoothly and effectively.” 

Yvonne concluded: “In keeping with Scotland’s ambitions to improve equality for BSL users, we are pleased to offer some free places to anyone who lives in Scotland and who meets key criteria.” 

Free places for this course are limited and subject to availability.  

Closing date for applications is the 4th June 2023. 

Further information about the short course for working with sign language users and interpreters can be found at: 

Notes to Editor

Course costs: £200 for CPD purposes, 6 weeks of content, and certificate of completion. Many individuals will meet the criteria for free places. If you want to study for academic credit, you can achieve 10 credits at SCQF Level 10 for £400. 

Criteria for free places: Free places are available for any person resident in Scotland, who holds an undergraduate degree (or equivalent professional experience), who is not currently studying for a degree level qualification, and meets at least one of the criteria below: 

  • unemployed or at risk of redundancy 
  • self-employed and working within the creative and cultural industries or hospitality, tourism, and events sector 
  • employed by a Scottish arts, cultural, hospitality, tourism, or events organisation 
  • employed by a Scottish charity or social enterprise 
  • employed by a Scottish Public Sector organisation that has a commitment to produce a strategic plan for BSL. (Examples include NHS, Local Authorities, Schools, FE colleges and HE institutions) 

For any queries about the course, contact the module coordinator Yvonne Waddell 

Find out about the Queen Margaret University’s short course in working with sign language users and interpreters at: 


For media information, please contact Lynne Russell, Communications Manager, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, E: M: 07711 011239 and copy to press office at