British Sign Language (BSL) has officially become part of the Curriculum for Wales . As well as provision for deaf BSL users, it can be part of a school’s curriculum for all children, like French or German.
BSL is seeing increased exposure, with Rose Ayling-Ellis’ performances on Strictly Come Dancing, interpreters working alongside Mark Drakeford during COVID-19 briefings, and the BSL Bill passing its second reading in Parliament. The exposure has led to an increase in people being inspired to learn the language.
The BSL guidance was published in September 2021. It was developed through collaboration between practitioners and other experts, including deaf BSL users, an approach that will continue as more support is developed for BSL in the curriculum.
In January, this was complemented by a BSL version of the four purposes , and the Languages, Literacy and Communication statements of what matters embedded in the curriculum guidance. A Curriculum for Wales BSL glossary development group, the first established by Welsh Government to conduct workshops exclusively in BSL, is working to ensure consistency in the BSL used in future curriculum guidance, supporting materials and resources.
Teachers of the Deaf working in Wales can register here for an information session focussed on progression for deaf BSL users, 15:00-16:30 on 28 March 2022. There is also a dedicated network which can be found by logging into Hwb and searching Networks for ‘Teachers of the Deaf/ Athrawon Plant Byddar’.
BSL tutors working in Wales can register here for an information session 10:00-12:00 on 4 April 2022, focussed on supporting planning, designing and teaching BSL in schools.
Other practitioners working in schools can register here for a session. This session is in partnership with the regional consortia and will take place on 11 May 2022. .
Establishing networks and collaborating will play an important part in supporting BSL in the curriculum. Members of the group which developed the curriculum guidance will contribute to information sessions for practitioners who want to know more about the Curriculum for Wales and BSL in the curriculum.
Supporting developments – the BSL Glossary Group
The first BSL glossary development group workshop was chaired by Dr Kate Rowley of Wolverhampton University on 28 January and included a knowledgeable and experienced group of deaf BSL users from across Wales. Dr Audrey Cameron and Gary Quinn led an introductory session on behalf of the Scottish Sensory Centre, which has done pioneering work creating BSL glossaries to support learning and teaching; gathering BSL existing terms and creating new ones; as well as supporting and advising others across the world who are developing sign language glossaries.
Over the coming months the group will be considering terms from the Curriculum for Wales guidance. Proposed BSL terms, with BSL definitions and examples, will be shared for wider feedback when available.
The Group’s members are: Jeff Brattan-Wilson, Alison Bryan, David Duller, Helen Foulkes, Sara Rhys-Jones, Dr Rob Wilks; with Dafydd Eveleigh representing Welsh Government.