What is British Sign Language?
Sign Language is a visual means of communicating using gestures, facial expression, and body language. Sign Language is used mainly by people who are Deaf or have hearing impairments.
British Sign Language (BSL)
Within Britain the most common form of Sign Language is called British Sign Language (or BSL). BSL has it’s own grammatical structure and syntax, as a language it is not dependant nor is it strongly related to any spoken language.
A Recognised Language
After a big campaign BSL was finally recognised by the UK government as an official minority language in 2003. This has led to increased funding for the needs of the coummunication of people who are Deaf, and an increased awareness of the language which now has a similar status to that of other minority national languages such as Gaelic and Welsh.
Sign Supported English (SSE)
Another form of sign language used in Britain is known as Sign Supported English (SSE). SSE is not a language in itself. SSE uses the same signs as BSL but they are used in the same order as spoken English. SSE is used to support spoken English, especially within schools where children with hearing impairments are learning English grammar along side their signing, or by people who mix mainly with hearing people.
Is Sign Language International?
Many hearing people have the false impression that Sign Language is a worldwide universal language, but this however is far from the truth. Because of the isolated nature of Sign Language there is even significant variation from city to city within Britain, this is known as regional variation and can be thought of as being similar to regional accents and colloquialisms found in spoken languages. Other countries have their own sign language.