What is British Sign Language?

People who are deaf communicate in different ways – they may use speech and lipread, they may use a type of signed communication, or they may use a combination of different methods. British Sign Language (BSL) is the most widely used type of signed communication in the UK and a language in its own right. It involves a combination of hand shapes and movements, lip patterns, facial expressions and shoulder movements. It has its own grammar and is structured in a completely different way to English. So where should we start.

How many people use BSL?

BSL is the first or preferred language of around 125,000 adults who are deaf in the UK, plus an estimated 20,000 deaf children. Many people who are hearing also learn and use BSL. Some learn for their own interest, others learn because they have a friend, relative or colleague who is deaf – or because they wish to begin a career working with people who are deaf.

Here are some things to remember when communicating with Deaf persons:

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