The influence of deaf people's dual category status on sign language planning: the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act (2015)

Autor/a: DE MEULDER, Maartje
Año: 2017
Editorial: Current Issues in Language Planning, Vol. 18, nº 2 (2017)
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital




Through the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act, British Sign Language (BSL) was given legal status in Scotland. The main motives for the Act were a desire to put BSL on a similar footing with Gaelic and the fact that in Scotland, BSL signers are the only group whose first language is not English who must rely on disability discrimination legislation to secure access to services in their own language. I argue this is caused by deaf peoples’ dual category status, meaning they are seen within public policy as both a linguistic minority and a disability group. This article analyses how this status informed the Act’s parliamentary scrutiny and implementation measures. Data come from parliamentary debates, discussions on social media and interviews with key players involved in the process. The article demonstrates that despite the Parliament’s desire to treat BSL signers as any other language minority, the Act was subjected to a particular set of discourses which exposed it to a degree of scrutiny not experienced by discourses for spoken minority language legislation, and which points to the political and societal context in which sign languages and signers operate.