SCOTLAND’S first degree in sign language is to be offered in the Capital.
The new undergraduate course at Heriot-Watt University will mean anyone wishing to study British Sign Language full-time will no longer have to travel to England to do so.
The university was given £744,192 over six years from the Scottish Funding Council to provide the course.
The programme will be the first in the UK in which graduates will be fully qualified and accredited BSL/English interpreters upon completion.
Tutors hope it will provide graduates with real opportunities for employment due to a current shortage of interpreters.
Professor Graham Turner, chairman of interpreting and translation studies at the university, said: “This is the culmination of many years’ work by deaf people and their allies to secure a vital skills boost in the sign language field.
“Access to sign language interpreters can change lives from deaf children hungry to learn at school, to employees whose contribution to the economic life of the country can be greatly enhanced, to elderly people needing reliable access to healthcare services.”
Mark Batho, chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council, added: “I am delighted that the graduates of this course will have a potentially great positive impact on access to services for deaf people.”