People with a Sensory Impairment (Participation)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 6 June 2013.

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Photo of Dennis Robertson Dennis Robertson Scottish National Party

3. To ask the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body what steps it has taken to ensure that people with a sensory impairment can take a full and active part when visiting the Parliament or attending external events. (S4O-02226)

Photo of Mary Scanlon Mary Scanlon Conservative

The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body has undertaken a number of steps to ensure that all visitors can take part fully and actively in any meeting or external event of the Parliament. For example, induction loops and infrared systems are available in the chamber and in committee rooms, and we have television screens throughout the building to enable the viewing of business.

Additional provision has been put in place to reflect the needs of people with sensory impairments. For example, we have information leaflets for witnesses and other visitors in a range of formats, including audio and British Sign Language, and we have a contract for BSL and other communication support to enable us to access provision such as note-takers, palantypists and BSL interpreters as and when it is requested.

Photo of Dennis Robertson Dennis Robertson Scottish National Party

The corporate body is probably aware that, in some cases, those with sensory impairments and those who are profoundly deaf and rely on BSL cannot take a full part in visiting the Parliament. In particular, our television screens do not have appropriate text or BSL to enable those visitors to witness what is going on. Will the corporate body consider looking at other means, or at improving the facilities for our BSL users in the future?

Photo of Mary Scanlon Mary Scanlon Conservative

I am aware through officials of the particular instance of a recent parliamentary committee visit to Stornoway, when members of the public were able to drop in to meet committee members before the formal meeting but we were unaware of the needs of some members of the public.

When bookings are made for the Parliament, we always ask whether any level of support is required. When we reviewed our provision for BSL and other forms of communication support, it was decided to provide an interpreter automatically when there is a debate or meeting in relation to deaf issues. However, anyone can request a BSL interpreter or any other form of communication support for any meeting of the Parliament. We will look to meet any request, provided that sufficient notice is given.