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For my two pennyworth I think that BSL SHOULD be taught in schools. When I was in school, several er well many years ago (approx 1900 and black&white!) I learnt to finger spell. We had a new boy in the class who was HOH and he taught us to finger spell.

The whole class learnt real quick. The teacher thought we were real nice kids, which of course we were ? but we soon learnt that when the teacher was not looking at us we could talk to each other with finger spell. imagine what we could have done with sign!

So for lots of reasons I say YES. Teach BSL in schools. What do you say?

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  • 11 months later...

I am about to go into teacher training myself and I know for certain that one of my aims is to incorporate BSL into every day life and lessons for the children I teach. I learnt some as a child due to my cousin being unable to talk but I really wish I had learnt some at school. I also work at a playscheme during school holidays and we are planning on doing a session or two on BSL with the children who are aged 3-12. Definitely should be encouraged in schools though. 

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  • 1 month later...

Definitely needed in schools!!!! 

Children soak it in like a sponge. 

Children are made to learn French, German, whatever, which they may never use or need. But BSL is a language in its own right in the UK!  So yes, THIS should be taught in all schools! 

I wasn't born deaf, in fact I was an interpreter for the Deaf for years. Not knowing I'd  to deaf one day. 

But I taught myself BSL. Started finger spelling age 16yrs. Went from  there. Took my exams then went deaf, lol

Been signing for far too many years...48 actually.  lol

We never know if we'll lose our hearing. Fortunately for me, God prepared me well!  But no so for others. 

I've taught many family members and friends. I make sure I teach anyone who wants to learn! 

So yep, I champion sign in schools! 

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  • 2 months later...

Speaking from my own experience in American deaf culture here. I do not mean to come across disrespectful nor do I have preconceived ideas of how British deaf culture is. Someone, educate me. :)

I live in America and from generally, everyone wants ASL to be taught in elementary school through high school. Unfortunately though, the catch 22 is 1) Native deaf signers are less likely to be hired to teach ASL in elementary-high school due to misconceptions of deaf people's abilities and 2) by what I gather of the opinions of the deaf community, hearing teachers don't often have the training necessary to teach ASL.
(that said some hearing, non native ASL teachers are accepted by the deaf community)
Bottom line: Should ASL be taught in mainstream schools? YES! How do we go about it that is fair? ???

I am curious about British deaf culture. How does the deaf community as a whole feel about BSL being taught in schools by the deaf, hard of hearing, hearing, whomever? Is BSL more widely available in university than in [primary and secondary school(?)]?

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  • 7 months later...

I have difficulty in understanding why BSL is required by non-deaf persons: BSL is the language best suited to deaf:deaf communication; unless one is very proficient, as are some non-deaf BSL users and all deaf persons due to early learning and continuous practice, then signing will be relatively slow, much slower than text.

Until the 1950's in the UK , the dominant method of intra deaf communication was fingerspelling, and those who were proficient could communicate very fast by today's signing standards, as some users still do, and faster and more accurately than signing without spelling; signing was ancillary to fingerspelling, with perhaps 100 signs for terms (now the basis of what we call BSL) in every day use.

With improved education standards post 1945 and with the late 20thc/early 21c wide-spread use of tv subtitles, email, sms texting, social media on the internet, and internet access to news and current affairs, English language comprehension and understanding in the deaf community expanded to a level  equivalent to that in most of the hearing community.

I appreciate that such views would be controversial on a site such as this, but I would be very interested in the thoughts of those who have an opinion on that subject.


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I probably need to clarify my comment about text communication between the deaf and non-deaf!

In a 1:1 situation, the exchange of written notes was common in the past, and finger spelling was also used, being much easier for the non-deaf to learn than signing.

In all situations, finger spelling and ‘modern’ forms of  communication are available: email, sms, social media.

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I have to come back to your comment as to BSL being, basically it's for the deaf only and not the hearing. 

I actually had to read that twice because I thought I'd misread it... But I haven't. So... 

I totally disagree with you. BSL isn't just for the deaf, and there IS a need for hearing people to learn it. 

If the hearing didn't understand BSL, how do you think they'd be able to have a conversation with a deaf person? How do you think the hearing would be able help the Deaf in situations where they they'll struggle to get over to a hearing person what they want, eg, in a store? 

I decided aged 16 to learn sign language. I believe it should be taught in all schools! Because I learnt BSL, it allowed me to mix with the deaf community. And in doing so, meet new friends. 

I like to think I helped out in many ways. Voluntary for years, and I did many things. Had I not known BSL, I couldn't have helped anyone like I did. Later I became an Interpreter and I definitely helped many deaf people to gain certificates in college on their chosen subjects. 

And as time passed, I actually became deaf myself. I'm now severely deaf and  wear 2 hearing aids. It's not a struggle for me, because I sign. And because I've taught all my hearing friends BSL, they can communicate with me. 

I can justify why the hearing should use BSL, I can testify to the fact my sign helped others. And now it helps me. 

I wonder how you can justify your comments on the fact hearing people shouldn't use BSL? 

I'm not being in any way pedantic here, it's just  my opinion. Something I feel very strongly about. 


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I also forgot to mention... 

Without detriment:

Many deaf people are unable to write, (I have personal experience with this as I worked with the deaf over many years) which means many can't understand Queen's English, since many are not taught it.

Those who can write can, as I gather you would know? It is not written in the order of the English language, therefore, (again, personal experiences,) many hearing people can not understand the written word from some deaf people. 

So in many instances, finger spelling is also not much use to some. Or txting, or social media. 

A prime example of one of my deaf friends does not understand the English order of words and struggles with words she fails to comprehend. 

Personally, I believe in total communication... Always. 

I'm curious, are you deaf? 


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Many thanks, Katmalan.

Your contribution is of assistance to me, but I will not  have time until next week to respond fully. In the meantime, as stated in my earlier post, I am not against signing; it’s a v suitable method of 1:1 communication berween the deaf, and I’m all in favour of fingerspelling.

I recently attended a court in which the Interpreters dominated proceedings: it seemed absurd: the participants were educated 20’s 30’s and familiar with emails, texting and social media; the whole process would have been far more efficient and the communications more accurate if the participants were given a keyboard.

talk again

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Thanks for getting back to news.

I'll wait for your reply next week or so. But it still baffles me... 

Did you, or do you, know these deaf individuals? Do you know with all certainty that they could cope in a court using a keyboard? Do you know with all certainty they didn't need the interpreters?

We are all worthy of having full understanding in every given situation. And in a legal situation, then I feel it's even more vital they have that support.

And though you may feel it was dominated with the interpreters, I think you'll find the deaf didn't agree with you on that either. Also, it's likely those 2 deaf individuals had family or friends with them who would also want to follow the proceedings. 

It's  not as simple as I feel your implying? 

As I've said previously, the written word is totally  different from British Sign Language. And unless you're deaf yourself, then you can't really say what you're saying and know you're right. 

You're convinced your thoughts are correct.  I'm merely saying, well, you need to walk our walk to know what it's  like. 

Only then will you truly understand.

Unless you are deaf, and you still believe what you're saying is correct? Even if that's the case, I'll still have to disagree. 😱

1 on 1 you say, BSL is OK for one on one... But not for multi... I disagree... 

Again, just my humble opinion. 

Catch you again in sure. 

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The recent posts here are making me think of a few instances that came up in a drama I watch in which many characters are Deaf. 

One instance shown in how hearing people being able to sign would be incredibly useful is in hospitals. In the show a couple of Deaf people get into an accident and no one at the hospital tells them anything. They get patched up, but no one will tell either of them where the other is, nor any information on what has actually happened to them. They can obviously work out if their arm is broken due to whether they've had a cast put on etc., but they haven't been told about it. 

You could say that the NHS should provide keyboards for Deaf patients, but the NHS doesn't have enough money as it is and the computers can be incredibly slow anyway. You could say that BSL should be part of the training to become a nurse, doctor or NHS receptionist, but as you've said learning a language from a young age works best... like learning it in schools.

There are many jobs where it at least could come in handy to know it. Teacher, lawyer, policeman, fire-fighter, barista, shop clerk, tailor... the list goes on. Knowing BSL helps let Deaf people know that the hearing world still considers them as part of the country and that we still believe they matter.


Also in the show I mentioned before a Deaf character was deeply struggling with an essay. He understood everything about it but his grammar was terrible. He pointed out how in English there are so many versions of a word; see; saw; have seen; will see; while in sign language it's just one sign. Sometimes it's still easy enough to work out what the person means when (s)he says something like "I saw what you mean", but there have been times when even hearing people, whose native language is English, have messaged me something that I couldn't understand in the slightest. If people who have known it their whole lives can't always make sense with it, how can you expect every person in a group who likely have it as their second language to make sense with it?


Also if by the interpreters dominating the court case you meant it was taking so much longer there are two things I wish to say on that subject.

1) giving them all keyboards could easily take longer even if everyone involved is 100% fluent in written English - have you seen how slow some people type?

2) it could have been solved by everyone involved knowing BSL.

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Hi KaleLing! 

I'm totally with you on this!

Born ASL and BSL SHOULD be taught in all schools! From primary up!

In the UK we have been fighting all the way to the house of commons! Refused once, raised again recently, we'll l never stop! Not until it's included! 

We are all of us entitled to total communication. And if we don't share it with the hearing world, how on earth do the hearing world learn it? How do we have both hearing and deaf friends if we don't bother to learn the language?

1 on 1, no, it doesn't matter how many it is or it isn't...  Sign Language is vital! 

Sorry, no offence to anyone who doesn't agree with me on this. But I've been on both sides of the fence in this. Hearing, then deaf... I've walked both  walks. 

 I know what I feel is right in my heart. But as I say, we all have our own opinion. 

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Well I'm just loving all of this positivity! Apart from the fact you're all on the same page as me! 😉

I've a feeling most people are going to agree with me on this! Love it! lol

Yeah, black N white TV, I had that too!! The wooden tops, watch with mother, Bill and  Ben, not forgetting, the little weed and Andy pansy! lol 

But you can speak so much faster in sign than using finger spelling! I can anyway, lol

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I've been in many situations in my life concerning deaf people... One is profund and something I'll never forget! 

I knew a young girl of 14yrs old. Rachel.. I introduced my friends daughter, Jenny, to the deaf community after teaching her BSL aged 15!

I was in A&E one night when she came in with her parents... I knew through many constrains worth Rachel that her parents wouldn't get involved with sign language. Had no intention of supporting their daughter, didn't want to know and shunned it. 

I want impressed at that, but she could sound off on me whenever she needed to. And did. 

So when she walked in with her parents I was really keen to see their stand on their daughters deafness. 

Now her mum came and sat by me, it seems she knew of me because her daughter was always going on about this hearing women who signs and does  voluntary work with the deaf. LOL She really didn't like that! 

So she introduced herself to me after I'd had a chat with Rachel, Rachel of course, telling me why she was there...

Her mum asked me how I felt about BSL... I told her I believe in total communication... We chatted about that for a few minutes. I asked if she signed... (I never let on I knew because I didn't want Rachel to get into bother.) She said no, there was no need... 


Then she told me they didn't need to learn sign language because they understood Rachel and  she understood them... 

Then  she told me that Rachel was in big trouble with them because she went out with her friends, got drunk, collapsed, knocked herself out, threw up in the street. Threw up in her friend's house, in her friend's loo, all over her clothes, the mum had to wash them, etc. The friends parents had to phone for them to pick her up. They brought her straight to A&E... Etc, etc, etc... 

I let her tell me HER story, HER story, yes, I said that... Because it certainly wasn't Rachel's story! Or her friends story! 

Then I said to her, 

'So you say you don't need to learn sign language because you all understand each other?' 

She said, 'yes, that's right!' 

So now I'm on my mettle... 

And then I indignantly, because I'm really upset for the child now, I told her EXACTLY why their daughter was in the hospital! 

She hadn't had a drink! She wasn't drunk! And what happened wasn't her fault! 

She'd been walking up the rd with her 2 friends, when suddenly a speeding car shot up the hill, it caught the curb as it shot round the corner, the wheel trim shot off, bounced onto the pavement... And smacked into Rachel's back! 

It shocked the 2 girls, but Rachel didn't know what hit her. It took her to the ground and knocked her unconscious instantly. The driver didn't stop.

So the girls, in a panic, got her up. Totally disorientated, all over the place, couldn't support herself, but they got her back to their home. 

The vomit in the street, on her clothes, on the bathroom floor, and anywhere else was NOT alcohol related... 

So I relayed the actual 'fact' of the reason why Rachel was in the predicament she was in... All the little details, and how come, if they all understood each other, they had absolutely no idea what had happened to their child! 

What can I say? I had no sympathy for heart, she was mortified! But I had no sympathy for her. She shot over to her husband and clearly told him what I'd  said... 

And since it's signed it all, Rachel from the other side of the room knew exactly what I'd said too! 😉

That incident, and probably my unhappiness at the fact they got it all so totally wrong... Changed things in that child's home. For the better. Because it was more than apparent to her parents now that no, they couldn't understand their daughter! 

She had severe concussion, thought to be through drink... How wrong did they get it? 

They started learning sign after that... Better late than never. 

So yeah, I champion sign, always have, always will! I'll die fighting for it! That child could have easily have died and she was being blamed... 

I remember that like it was a well all! When really, it's way too many years ago! 

Some things stay fresh in our memory forever... 

This has in mine... 

So do I believe sign should be taught in schools? 

Damn right I do! 

Excuse any typos! I don't typo in sign, just in txting... 😉



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  • 1 month later...

I am currently carrying out research around this area. It would make a big difference if people could take their time to fill out this questionnaire after reading the consent form. I am teacher in training, currently writing a report on 'how can we implement sign language into mainstream school to promote inclusion'. parent questionaire.docx online consent letter.docx

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  • 3 years later...

I would like to be a contrarian on this issue, with three questions:


1. Of the following four options which one would be the most efficient method of communication between a hearing person and a profoundly deaf person:

a) signing supported by fingerspelling

b) fingerspelling supported by signing

c) handwriting

d) text to text on e-devices

e) voice to text on e-devices


2.Would an emphasis on signing supported by fingerspelling tend to

a) reduce or increase a deaf person’s literacy

b) infantalise the non deaf person?

c) neither


3. Why is signing supported by fingerspelling the currently accepted method of communication between the hearing and the deaf community?

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