British Sign Language

What is BSL?

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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 (BSL). BSL has it’s own grammatical structure and syntax, as a language it is not dependant nor is it strongly related to spoken English. BSL is the preferred language of around 145,000 people within the UK (2011).

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.

A WORLDWIDE LANGUAGE?

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.

Here are some basic greetings that you can use to communicate with a deaf or hearing impaired person:

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And BSL even has its own way of saying the alphabet. Why not try learning your name? 

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Unite reps in LBG in the North West have been learning sign language since November 2021. They have nearly finished Level 1 in BSL and this has all been funded through the union. 

We are working with Unite and LBG to expand this offering to all members all over the country. If you would like to register your interest to learn sign language, please fill in the form below:

Register interest