The first British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting degree in Scotland has been launched at Heriot-Watt's School of Management & Languages with the support of funding from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).
We are placing BSL squarely alongside other modern languages within a programme structure that has for over 40 years been producing translators and interpreters to work at the highest international standards
Unique new degree programmes
The degree is the only one in the UK on which students will graduate as fully qualified and accredited BSL/English interpreters upon completion. This means they can start working anywhere in the UK straight away, without the need for further training. With 60,000 Deaf people in the UK and a national shortage of qualified BSL interpreters the degree could make a considerable contribution to the Deaf community, as well as offering good employment prospects to graduates.
Leading centre in sign language studies
The graduates of this course will have a potentially great positive impact on access to services for Deaf people
Heriot-Watt has over a decade of involvement in working with the signing community and has an established profile as one of the UK's leading centres in sign language studies. The SFC funding of £744,192 over six years will build on Scottish Government's investment in BSL. Students, who do not need previous BSL experience, can study BSL (plus English) as their only language or BSL in combination with other European languages (French, German or Spanish). The programmes include BSL language immersion placements with the Deaf community in third year and work experience placements in fourth year.
Professor Graham Turner, Chair of Interpreting and Translation Studies at Heriot-Watt University, said: "Access to sign language interpreters can change the lives of Deaf people, from deaf children hungry to learn at school, to employees whose contribution to the economic life of the country can be greatly enhanced.
"What is unique about our BSL work," said Professor Turner, "is that it takes place within an internationally-renowned Department of Languages & Intercultural Studies. That means we are placing BSL squarely alongside other modern languages within a programme structure that has for over 40 years been producing translators and interpreters to work at the highest international standards."
Mark Batho, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: "We are pleased to support the Scottish Government's ambition for BSL to become a modern language, creating highly employable graduates with in-demand skills. The graduates of this course will have a potentially great positive impact on access to services for Deaf people."
Scholarships & bursaries for 2012 entry
A range of scholarships and bursaries is available to assist with access to the programme for students from anywhere in the UK. Applications to the new BSL programme for September 2012 entry are now being accepted.