SOMETHING important happened yesterday at 5.05pm. I wonder if you felt the reverberations.

At Holyrood the Scottish Parliament passed a Bill that will, if properly implemented, have far reaching ramifications enhancing the lives of deaf people in this country.

The British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill was passed and, as it came to be approved, you could just make out tears in the eyes of BSL interpreter Paul Belmonte, welling up as he signed that the Act had passed.

The Bill, from Labour MSP was introduced in October last year and managed to gain a wealth of support - the consultation on the proposal for this Bill attracted the most responses to any bill proposed either by the Scottish Government or an MSP in the last 16 years - despite not much publicity in the Scottish media.

As if being deaf was not potentially isolating enough, deaf people have never before had their first language recognised. Although BSL has been recognised as a minority language since 2003, it was protected under equalities legislation.

This new bill protects BSL and deafblind tactile BSL as a language in its own right, putting it on an equal footing to Gaelic in Scotland.

The sign language is a manual language for communication, rather than an impairment requiring support to fix. For some it is their first and for others their first and only language.

It is hoped the bill will help create an inclusive society where BSL users can chat freely with their friends and colleagues in their first language. Maybe we can start with BSL being offered in schools as a modern language alongside French, German and Italian. Maybe in the future young sign language users will be able to have their education in their first language, alongside hearing peers.

BSL is used at home by more than12,500 people in Scotland, a full and expressive language with regional variations and dialects. In Glasgow, for example, there are three different signs for the Gorbals.

We already know the educational and cultural advantages of bilingualism; BSL is another opportunity to make the most of these.

As well as recognising the deaf community as an active and official community, the new act will ensure that more translators are needed, especially in the face of present shortages, if deaf people are to play a full part in public life giving educational and career opportunities for deaf and hearing people alike.

This is a correct, bold move from Scotland and sign language users in England and Wales will be watching closely to see if their governments follow suit.

I'm giving it an almighty thumbs up.