top of page

What is British Sign Language (BSL)

British Sign Language (BSL) is the preferred language of over 87,000 Deaf people in the UK for whom English may be a second or third language (A total of 151,000 individuals in the UK who can use BSL - this figure does not include professional BSL users, Interpreters, Translators, etc unless they use BSL at home).

Sign languages are fully functional and expressive languages; at the same time they differ profoundly from spoken languages. BSL is a visual-gestural language with its own distinctive grammar, syntax and lexicons using handshapes, facial expressions, gestures and body language to convey meaning.

BSL was recognised by the UK government as an official language in its own right in March 2003, but there are currently no accurate figures for the number of sign language users in the country.

A good estimate is that there are around 70,000 people who use BSL as their preferred language.

 

Understanding English

For many Deaf people, learning English is learning a second language. In BSL, one sign can often represent what would be an entire sentence in English. On the other hand, some English words do not have a sign equivalent. 

Deafness is a cultural identity, not merely a matter of hearing loss

bottom of page