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Hello everyone. My name is Isabelle, I'm 21 and I'm a psychology PhD researcher living in Birmingham though I'm originally from Ireland. I'm really looking forward to getting better at BSL.

I have been meaning to learn a sign language for a long time as my mother is a paediatric occupational therapist and as a small child she taught me bits and pieces of ISL and makaton which she uses with some of her clients. It seemed really cool to me that people who couldn't hear or speak oral/aural languages had developed a system to communicate anyway. As a child it seemed like a super cool secret code, and as I grew older it seemed like a great way to gain some insight into the experiences and culture of Deaf people in my community and around the world. I'd always had a really easy time picking up new languages so I thought it would be easy to learn sign language. I found that it was a lot harder and more complicated than I had thought, probably because I didn't realise that ASL/ISL/BSL/etc. were all completely different languages with their own vocabulary and rules. So I gave up and didn't think about it again for a long time. Recently though I started watching a YouTuber called Jessica Kellgren‐Fozard who does lots of history and vintage fashion videos etc. and also happens to be deaf. She made a video about how SSE, which she uses, differs from BSL, and spoke about Deaf culture and the history of sign language etc. and I found it really fascinating. I ended up doing a lot of research and reading about the development and history of sign languages and deaf communities around the world and I decided now was a good time to try learning to sign again ‐ after all it's not like I don't have plenty of time now we're all locked in our houses.

 Since I've decided to stay in the UK once I finally finish my studies, I decided it would be better to learn BSL instead as I'm unlikely to meet many people who use ISL here. I don't have any deaf or hard‐of‐hearing people in my life at the moment but I'm hoping that I can continue learning and practicing my BSL so that in the event I do meet someone who uses it I can communicate with them and maybe make some new friends. I'm looking forward to getting to know you all 😃

Edited by Isabelle

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