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The lead organisation for deaf issues in Scotland

Equality and integration through communication for all

Empowering Deaf People

Promoting Integration

Campaigning for Positive Change

Icons for deafness and deafblind, both in circles

deafscotland is the lead organisation for deaf issues in Scotland.

We aim to ensure that deaf people in Scotland can access services and information across all sectors of society, from their local communities to what comes from government departments. We represent organisations working with and on behalf of people from across the full spectrum of deafness.

Icons for sign language and for hearing loss, both in circles.

Understanding the four pillars of deafness

We use the term the “four pillars of deafness” to describe Deaf, Deafblind, Deafened and Hard of Hearing as people with different levels of deafness have different barriers to overcome and have different language and communication support needs.

BSL version

Deaf Sign Language Users

Deaf Sign Language users are people whose first or preferred language is British Sign Language (BSL), or another Sign Language if they grew up in another country. These people have been born deaf or have become deaf early in life. People with this level of deafness are described as being profoundly deaf.  Deaf BSL users usually see themselves as part of a linguistic/cultural minority known as the Deaf Community.

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Imagine you have just landed in a foreign country. You do not speak the language, and nobody in that country speaks English. Imagine the impact that has on you. Would you become fearful? Would you be able to act with the same independence you have at home? Would you become isolated?

BSL version

People who are Deafblind

Deafblindness is sometimes called dual sensory impairment. This is because deafblind people will have both some hearing loss and some sight loss. A person can be born deafblind (called congenital deafblindness) or lose both their hearing and sight in later life. It is important to remember that many deafblind people may not be totally deaf nor totally blind.

BSL version


Understanding life for a deafblind person is best reached through simulating their experiences. The use of SimSpecs to mimic various visual impairments and ear defenders to simulate hearing loss or deafness can be very effective in understanding how deafblind people communicate. 

BSL version

People who are Deafened

People who were born able to hear and become severely deaf after learning to speak are often described as Deafened or as having an acquired profound hearing loss (APHL). This hearing loss may be due to a disease or illness or there may not be an identified reason for the loss of the person’s hearing. Deafened people may rely on lipreading to follow a conversation or need to have things written down for them. If arranging a meeting or appointment with a person who is Deafened, it is important to find out what support they need, for example, an Electronic Notetaker or a Lip Speaker.

BSL version


You’re speaking to someone, taking in every word they are saying but then they turn the opposite way and you can no longer hear anything they are saying. Hearing people may experience this in loud environments or windy conditions, but imagine that every conversation you have is like this. People who lose their hearing experience an element of grief and it may take a person some time to realise the extent of their hearing loss.

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People who are Hard of Hearing

Hard of Hearing is a term used to describe people with a mild to moderate hearing loss. People who are Hard of Hearing will, in general, lose their hearing gradually and the majority of Hard of Hearing people do so later in their lives. A person with a mild hearing loss might wear a hearing aid and have some difficulty in following conversations in noisy situations. A person with a moderate hearing loss might have one or two hearing aids and will have difficulty following normal speech without the aid. 

BSL Version


You are at a comedy show, engrossed in the comedian’s stories, but the microphone keeps cutting out and occasional words are being dropped. The people in the front row are laughing heartily, but you have missed the joke. This continues throughout the performance. How frustrated do you become?

BSL Version

Latest News from deafscotland

Job Scheme – ITV SignPost & BSLBT – trainee scheme for Deaf Filmmakers

ITV SignPost has partnered with British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust (BSLBT) to offer a new trainee scheme aimed at getting young Deaf film-makers into the industry.   Applications are now being invited from Deaf film-makers and production talent who want…

Thank you for making our conference great!

deafscotland and Disability Equality Scotland would like to thank all the delegates, stall holders, workshop leaders, language/communication support professionals, sponsors and the hotel for making our Scottish Sensory and Equality Conference 2019: Communication for All a great day. We will…

“Mental Health and Wellbeing for all people affected by deafness: Past, Present and Future”

It is 10 years since SCoD published the research paper “Making the Case for Specialist Mental Health Services in Scotland”. SCoD has produced a paper that shows the developments that have been put in place for people with a hearing…