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  • What is British Sign Language?

    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.

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    • Hello! I'm a newbie, part way through and really enjoying learning. I'm left handed and following the left signs, but as I practice I notice that I flip between using both my left and right as primary hand. Obviously as a newbie my vocab is limited, so my question is does it matter? Do I need to work on this now before it becomes a problem further down the line, or does it not matter? Thanks! 
    • Hello Everyone I am 51and joining BSL as I want to make friends here and within the Deaf Community. I have been drawn to Sign language for many years and feel its important to be able to communicate effectively and fluently. I hope you are all keeping safe and well.
    • Hi there.  I'm Louisa and I'm very new to BSL.  My mum taught makaton when I was younger but I didn't pay too much attention or so I thought: I've clearly picked up some bits that link in with BSL.  I work in finance for a council working with adults with physical and sensory impairments and awareness is one of our key messages to the communities we work with.  So I'm learning to be able to communicate better with the people I work with.  I am loving the course so far (only on intro session 4) a
    • Hello I am very new to signing but I am also keen to practice... 
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