3. To ask the Scottish Government what support it provides to the deaf community. (S6O-01990)
The Scottish Government provides around £2.2 million in funding through the equality and human rights fund and the children, young people and families early intervention fund to third sector projects that work with deaf people.We also provide funding of £600,000 per year to Contact Scotland BSL, an online video relay service enabling deaf and deafblind British Sign Language users to make phone calls. We also fund the Scottish Sensory Centre and CALL Scotland to provide advice and training to school staff on support, including the use of assistive technology for children and young people with specific communication and sensory needs.
I recently met the local deaf club in my constituency to discuss the problems faced by people whose first language is British Sign Language. What actions has the Scottish Government taken to promote the provision of written information and correspondence from Scottish businesses and organisations such as the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator to BSL users in a format that they can access, read and understand?
The Scottish Government is committed to promoting the use and understanding of BSL as a fully recognised language across the Scottish public sector. BSL users can contact businesses using the Contact Scotland BSL online video relay interpreting service, and businesses can contact their deaf customers in the same way. Contact Scotland BSL is widely promoted to deaf BSL users and to service providers through a series of free online webinars and visits to deaf clubs.
The minister will be aware of the damning findings of the audit into NHS Lothian’s audiology department and how that situation affects the deaf community. Last week, a number of local MSPs met the families directly and heard about how it is affecting them.
Will the Government confirm that it will meet local MSPs and families from the families failed by Lothian audiology action group in order to ensure that the treatment support needs of those children can be met and that, most importantly, we find out how many children have been affected?
The responsibility for national health service audiology lies with my health colleagues, some of whom are in the chamber today. I am sure that they will respond appropriately to Mr Whitfield.