Founded in 1927, deafscotland, formerly known as the Scottish Association for the Deaf and from 2000 to 2018 as the Scottish Council on Deafness (SCoD), has a rich and diverse history.

Read through some of our highlights below, and for more information on our current activities check out our "What we do" page.

1927 - 1999

  • Developed and established a number of employment schemes for Deaf people like the market garden scheme in Ayrshire, boot repairing business in Glasgow and secretarial training centre for Girls
  • Developed and ran an extensive Library on Deafness at Moray House College of Higher Education (which was handed over to Scottish Sensory Centre)
  • Visited by Helen Keller who donated a bullock to be sold and the funds donated to SAD, which was later given to Sense Scotland in 1985. From this gift, Sense Scotland developed the Helen Keller Award
  • Secured (safe) Crown Court recognition of the need for professional Sign Language Interpreter services
  • Been instrumental in the establishment of Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters (SASLI)
  • Established Scotland’s first and only voluntary Register of deaf people
  • Secured the continuation of the subtitling of STV’s evening news programme, after extensive lobbying
  • Developed “HearHere”, a quarterly newsletter which at one time had the highest circulation of any publication in the Deaf Community in the UK
  • Campaigned with other societies to ensure the continued employment of the three ministers for deaf people in Scotland by the Church of Scotland
  • Secured recognition for Sign Language Interpreting as a profession, established the first qualifying courses for Sign Language Interpreters in Scotland and awarded the first certificates to them in Scotland, in conjunction with SASLI
  • Secured funding for the first ever course in Scotland to enable Deaf people to train as Tutors of British Sign Language
  • Supported CACDP (now Signature) to produce a Directory of Training Opportunities



  • After the Scottish Association for the Deaf was renamed Scottish Council on Deafness, Lilian Lawson took up position as Director.
  • Since then SCoD has:
    • Provided continuing support to the Scottish Lipreading Tutor Training Course;
    • Organised an Information Day for deaf people to report on the findings of the Scottish Executive’s Report ‘Sensing Progress’;
    • Contributed to the development of Best Practice Standards in Social Work;
    • Engaged in a consultation exercise with deaf people to find out what their needs are;
    • Supported the Scottish Parliament debate on the official recognition of British Sign Language.


  • SCoD began work with the Scottish Executive’s BSL and Linguistic Access Working Group.
  • The Director was involved in discussions with the Scottish Parliament to ensure deaf people would have access to parliamentary debates through the provision of communication support.
  • SCoD’s Director became the Cross Party Group on Deafness Secretary and meetings were held with the Ministers for Education and Health & Community Care.


  • At the request of the Department for Trade & Industry a successful event was organised for deaf people to participate in the consultation process on discrimination in employment and training.
  • An advocacy workshop was held in partnership with the Advocacy Safeguards Agency.
  • Question Time events were held in Prestwick, Kirkcaldy, Elgin and Dumfries – opportunities for deaf people to question and present their concerns to their local councillors, MSPs and MPs.
  • A Manifesto was produced in time for the Scottish Parliament elections in 2003 and was sent to every candidate.


  • Moved to new premises in Central Chambers, Glasgow and were welcomed with a Civic Reception by Glasgow City Council at the Annual General meeting.
  • The Sensory Impairment Action Plan was produced following the Sensory Impairment Conference with Deafblind Scotland, RNIB Scotland and the Scottish Executive’s Community Care Division.
  • Forum was held at Deaf Connections on the Disability Discrimination Act to update deaf people on the latest stage of the implementation of this Act.
  • Textphones were donated to 29 MPs by BT
  • Two successful counselling events – Introduction to Counselling for deaf people and an Awareness Day for Mainstream Counsellors – were held.
  • A further three Question Times were held in Wick, Dumfries and Falkirk.


  • 16 Position statements were prepared on the following topics:
    • Arts & Entertainment
    • Information
    • Audiology
    • Mental Health
    • Cochlear Implants
    • MMR Immunisations
    • Consultation
    • Newborn Hearing Screening
    • Deafblindness
    • Residential Care
    • Direct Payments
    • Social Work Services
    • Education
    • Sensory Impairment
    • Health Services
    • Television and the Media
  • The Scottish Executive held three conferences on the Sensory Impairment Action Plan in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness
  • SCoD organised a meeting for deaf people to present their concerns to representatives of train companies
  • A range of information leaflets was produced and these were subsequently transferred onto a signed and subtitled DVD. The DVD also contained the position statements and the manifesto.
  • Members of the National Council attended a Human Rights Training Session delivered by Scottish Human Rights Trust
  • At Moray House, an Access to Education training seminar was held to encourage Deaf people to enter the teaching profession.
  • SCoD was invited to work with the NHS Education for Scotland on their initiative to provide deaf awareness training for National Health staff.
  • SCoD and Deaf Action held a forum on the Disability Discrimination Act in Donaldson’s College, Edinburgh.
  • A Question Time was held in Fort William
  • Our well-attended Annual General Meeting was held in Dundee.


  • Continued involvement with the Scottish Executive on the Sensory Impairment Action Plan and participation in the Social Work Review
  • The deaf awareness training pack for National Health workers was launched at a well-attended event at the Royal Museum of Scotland
  • A well-attended Question Time event was held in Greenock
  • The Counselling Project began with the appointment of two part-time project workers. The first group of Deaf students are already half way through their course to train as counsellors and courses on deaf awareness and communication tactics with Deaf people have been held for qualified counsellors
  • The sub-committees continue their work as does the Cross Party Group on Deafness
  • A petition to ask for improved facilities for deaf people with mental health problems was submitted to the Scottish Parliament
  • A very successful 50+ Open Day was held at Deaf Connections. This was attended by many over-fifties who discussed the kind of provision and support they would like for their future
  • SCoD participated in the CACDP Fair at Hampden
  • SCoD participated in a deaf awareness event in Girvan
  • SCoD Director Lilian Lawson was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list
  • A very enjoyable Open Day was held in June
  • The AGM was held in Aberdeen in October
  • SCoD became involved with the Cross Party Group on Mental Health at the Scottish Parliament with the Director as their representative
  • In November, SCoD Staff spent three days in the Garden Lobby of the Scottish Parliament meeting MSPs and talking about SCoD’s work and vision for the future


  • SCoD continues its representation on the Cross Party Group on Deafness and the Cross Party Group on Mental Health
  • The Mental Health petition remains in place in the Scottish Parliament
  • In addition to the public petition, Adam Ingram MSP, Convener of the Cross Party Group on Mental Health raised a motion in the Parliament lamenting the lack of facilities for deaf people with mental health problems. This was directly as a result of a SCoD’s presentation to the Cross Party Group on Mental Health
  • Continued to build up contacts with professionals in Mental Health and Counselling
  • A new Technology sub-committee was established
  • Work continued with the Scottish Executive’s Social Work Review and Sensory Impairment Action Plan
  • A very successful Question Time in Motherwell was chaired by Frances Dolan, member of SCoD’s Management Committee
  • The Counselling Training Project held a forum for mainstream counsellors in March and continued its programme of Communication Tactics courses
  • The first cohort of deaf students to gain a qualification in counselling graduate in October 2006
  • There was a most enjoyable celebration evening on 1 June for these students, their tutors, SCoD Staff and representatives from various counselling agencies
  • A delegation of deaf people arranged by SCoD met with the First Minister, Jack McConnell in May
  • SCoD was involved in an advisory capacity with Heriot Watt University’s course for Deaf Teachers of BSL. The students on this course will go on to train other Deaf people to become teachers of BSL


  • Meetings were held with Anne Maguire MP, under-secretary of State for Work and Pensions and with the Access to Work Business Team in an effort to ensure that deaf people received the appropriate support in their working lives.
  • SCoD representatives were invited to speak to the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) and gained RCP support for the campaign to improve deaf people’s access to mental health facilities.
  • The Counselling Training Project entered its final stage.
  • Sandra Whyte MSP held the first ever surgery for deaf people with interpreters provided in our office.
  • Negotiations took place with train companies for full access to information.
  • The Scottish Sensory Centre’s BSL Glossary Project continued with support from SCoD.
  • The culmination of months of hard work and planning resulted in our “Great Expectations” conference on mental health and deafness at Celtic Park, Glasgow. This was an outstanding success with over 240 delegates attending.
  • A Policy and Research Officer was appointed with funding and enthusiastic support from the Scottish Government Equality Unit.
  • In September, a Question Time event was held in Dumfries.
  • In October we held our 80th Annual General meeting at the Glasgow City Chambers. Glasgow City Council provided a Civic Reception and the Depute Lord Provost addressed the meeting.
  • In the evening, we welcomed SCoD supporters from all over the country to a celebratory ceilidh.


  • SCoD was awarded funding from the Electoral Commission to set up a project to raise awareness of the electoral process among deaf people.
  • We joined the Scottish Accessible Transport Alliance (SATA) and supported their efforts to widen access to transport facilities.The Scottish Government asked SCoD to arrange a meeting and invite deaf people to present their views on the Scottish Government Disability Equality Duty.
  • A Scottish Deaf History scoping meeting was held followed by an Open Meeting. It was decided to set up “Scottish Deaf History” in order to identify and preserve the history of the deaf in Scotland. It is hoped that funding can be found to take this project even further but at the moment an inaugural meeting will be held in October of this year.
  • SCoD’s paper by the Policy and Research Officer “Making the Case for Specialist Mental Health Services for Deaf People in Scotland” was launched at Deaf Action on 8 May. This paper was very well received and helped to stimulate more interest in our ongoing campaign to improve the situation of deaf people with mental health problems. 
  • The Convenor or the Cross Party Group on Deafness, Cathie Craigie MSP agreed to take forward a Private Member's bill on British Sign Language recognition 
  • Big Lottery Funding was received to take forward the work of the counselling project to raise awareness of counselling among GPs and other professional health workers. This project started in September.
  • In addition over the year we provided successful work placements for three young deaf people in our office.
  • The work of the sub-committees continued and eighty years on, SCoD continues to strive for improved access for deaf people in all areas.


  • Following a survey of our membership, it was decided that the existing sub-committees would be re-organised into the following 3 sub-committees: Communication and Access, Health & Wellbeing and Education. The Mental Health and Deaf People Task Group would continue as before.
  • With Scottish Government funding, a BSL DVD explaining Self Directed Support was made in-house by SCoD staff and distributed widely throughout Scotland.
  • We continued to work with NHS Health Scotland, NES and NHS 24 including the Breathing Space telephone counselling project which recruited Deaf textphone advisers with assistance from SCoD. Advice was also given regarding the production of a BSL DVD about bowel cancer screening.
  • The first meeting of Scottish Deaf Sports Federation steering group was held at SCoD’s office in June and SCoD has been actively involved in subsequent Scottish Deaf Sports Federation meetings.
  • Discussions were held with representatives of the Scottish Police and Scottish Prison service with a view to deaf awareness training being made available to their employees.
  • Work continued towards the BSL Bill which aims to secure BSL as one of Scotland’s official languages giving deaf people the right to access information and services in their own language rather than having to ask using their deafness as a disability to access this.
  • SCoD worked with Heriot Watt University on their BSL Uptake project. This project brings together on one website information in BSL on politics and public policy.
  • A roundtable discussion on online interpreting was organised in March.
  • The Access to Democracy Project (A2D) held workshops provided by local trainers across Scotland. The Result! DVD explaining the electoral system in BSL was distributed and guided tours of the Scottish Parliament were given to groups of deaf and deafblind people. In November, the first ever National Conversation event for deaf people was held in Glasgow with Nicola Sturgeon, Depute First Minister of Scotland.
  • The Counselling Training Project Co-ordinator organised many successful deaf/deafblind awareness workshops for Health Workers and Counselling awareness workshops for deaf and deafblind people.
  • The Policy and Research Officer held open meetings in Falkirk, Inverness, Thurso and Paisley.
  • Funding was obtained from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Presenting the Past: My Firsts project. Interviews with Deaf people will be filmed and transferred onto DVDs, so preserving footage and historical information about deaf people and their community which would otherwise be lost.

2010 - 2016

  • SCoD continued to provide the secretariat for the Cross Party Group on Deafness at the Scottish Parliament. In July, the Convenor of the CPGD, Cathie Craigie launched the consultation on the BSL Bill and with encouragement and support from SCoD, over 850 individuals and organisations submitted their responses to the Bill to the Scottish Parliament.
  • We were advised in May that £200,000 per year had been allocated by the Scottish Government to fund a specialist mental health service for deaf people. The new service will involve a specialist team who will work with inpatients in Health Boards throughout Scotland. This is in response to our 2008 "Making the Case" paper and petition PE808  which was submitted to the Scottish Parliament in 2005.
  • The three new sub-committees: Communication and Access; Health & Wellbeing and Education began their work to improve services for deaf people in these areas.
  • With the Census coming up in 2011 we wanted a question included which would provide statistics on deafness in Scotland and the Director and Policy and Research officer had several meetings and discussions with General Registers of Scotland. It is unfortunate that the question which will be included will not in fact provide these much-needed statistics.
  • We continued to work with NHS, NHS 24 and the police in Scotland as well as providing input to Independent Living in Scotland.
  • The Big Lottery Recession Fund awarded further funding to the Counselling Awareness Project, extending this from September 2010 to January 2011.
  • A total of 57 Deaf people from every part of Scotland were interviewed for the Deaf Heritage Project. Their early experiences, for example at school and in their first jobs, were captured on film for future generations to see. Further funding has been obtained to film Deaf people’s sporting experiences.
  • Our AGM was held in Perth in October at which Dr Murray Earle of The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) gave a most informative presentation on making a law in Scotland.