BSL:UPTAKE Knowledge Exchange Cafe wins Public Engagement Challenge

The BSL Knowledge Exchange Cafe was used as an opportunity to film Deaf people's responses in British Sign Language (BSL) to the public consultation on a BSL Bill for the Scottish Parliament

The Public Engagement Challenge participants with Professor Graham Turner (back row left), Bob Duncan, BSL Project Officer (front row centre) and also Elaine Farrow (front row, 2nd from right) from the EdSign34 project, which was awarded 2nd place.Heriot-Watt University's BSL:UPTAKE project has won a prestigious academic award for their recent BSL Knowledge Exchange Cafe initiative.

The BSL:UPTAKE team, from the School of Management and Languages, were presented with the award for the best Public Engagement Challenge of 2009€“2010 at the Annual Gathering of the Edinburgh Beltane. The judges said "This award recognises the high impact ratings the BSL Knowledge Exchange Cafe achieved on all the elements which we consider are particularly important for quality public engagement events. In particular, the event had clear potential to feed into public policy, with the current public consultation on a BSL Bill for Scotland."

Knowledge Exchange Cafe

The BSL Knowledge Exchange Cafe was one of seven Public Challenge projects run by universities and higher education in Edinburgh, with the help of grants from Edinburgh Beltane.

The Cafe took place at the headquarters of Deaf Action in Edinburgh in August 2010 and Deaf people from all over Scotland were invited to come along and meet the BSL:UPTAKE team, who demonstrated how to use the BSL:UPTAKE website to research information on public policy issues affecting the Deaf community, and to use this information to become more actively engaged in public life and policy-making.

The Cafe also included representatives from Moray House School of Education in Edinburgh, who talked about their new research project with deaf children. In addition, the Scottish Council on Deafness used the Cafe as an opportunity to film Deaf people's responses in British Sign Language (BSL) to the current public consultation on a BSL Bill for the Scottish Parliament.

Professor Graham Turner, Director of the Centre for Translation and Interpreting Studies in Scotland, and BSL:UPTAKE Project Officer Bob Duncan received a cheque for £2000 and a sketch by Edinburgh Beltane artist-in-residence Fionna Carlisle.

Professor Graham Turner said "It is absolutely fantastic to have the BSL:Uptake Project, and in particular the Knowledge Exchange Cafe, recognised in this way by Edinburgh Beltane. It reflects, in particular, our firm commitment to working with third sector organisations like Deaf Action and the Scottish Council on Deafness to enhance the collective impact of our work upon public policy. Public engagement has to be integral to University life. We plan to use this award to help us run further BSL Knowledge Exchange events."

As part of their ongoing commitment to public engagement the BSL:UPTAKE team will be collaborating with Scotland's Futures Forum and the Edinburgh Beltane to stage two events at the Scottish Parliament in November 2010. The events will examine, with Members of the Scottish Parliament, representatives from Edinburgh's universities and members of the Deaf community, the future of BSL in an inclusive Scotland.

Other winners

EdSign34, a collaborative project between Heriot-Watt, Queen Margaret University and University of Edinburgh was also awarded second place in the Challenge. They ran a series of open public lectures on BSL and Deaf issues and provided a forum for knowledge transfer and information exchange between academics, educators, students and members of the local Deaf community, as well as interested members of the public.

Pictured: The Public Engagement Challenge participants with Professor Graham Turner (back row left), Bob Duncan, BSL Project Officer (front row centre) and also Elaine Farrow (front row, 2nd from right) from the EdSign34 project, which was awarded 2nd place.