Language Provision in the Scottish Public Sector: Recommendations to Promote Inclusive Practice

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Language Provision in the Scottish Public Sector: Recommendations to Promote Inclusive Practice


  • Róisín McKelvey Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Stirling, Scotland / School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, University of Edinburgh, Scotland


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Abstract:  Public service providers in Scotland have developed language support, largely in the form of interpreting and translation, to meet the linguistic needs of those who cannot access their services in English. Five core public sector services were selected for inclusion in a research project that focused on the aforementioned language provision and related equality issues: the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service, NHS Lothian, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, the City of Edinburgh Council and Glasgow City Council. The frameworks within which these public service providers operate—namely, the obligations derived from supranational and domestic legal and policy instruments—were analysed, as was the considerable body of standards and strategy documents that has been produced, by both national organisations and local service providers, in order to guide service delivery. Although UK equalities legislation has largely overlooked allochthonous languages and their speakers, this research found that the public service providers in question appear to regard the provision of language support as an obligation related to the Equality Act (UK Government, 2010). Many common practices related to language support were also observed across these services, in addition to shared challenges, both attitudinal and practical. A series of recommendations regarding improvements to language provision in the public sector emerged from the research findings and are highlighted in this article.

Keywords:  education; equality law; healthcare; interpreting; language provision; policy recommendations; public services; Scotland; translation

Published:   14 January 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v9i1.3549


© Róisín McKelvey. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.