Tell me about British Sign Language What is British Sign Language?

British Sign Language, better known as BSL, is the indigenous signed language of England, Wales and Scotland with attendant regional variations. Northern Ireland uses BSL but also has Irish Sign Language, (ISL), usage. Signed Languages are full and complete in their own right with a unique grammatical structure and vocabulary. They are living languages in that they adapt and modify just as spoken languages do; so, as new words are coined signs are similarly created to express new concepts or technology etc. On the 18th March 2003 the British Government officially recognized BSL as the fourth indigenous language of the British Isles, however an Act formally recognizing BSL has yet to be introduced into parliament. Fortunately, the Equality Act enables Deaf people to enforce their equal rights in many areas of life including employment and access to goods and services.

Is Sign Language the same around the world?

No, each country has or has had its own indigenous signed language at some stage although many signed languages have fallen out of usage due to the influence of some of the major languages such as BSL and ASL (American Sign Language) particularly in the non developed nations.

What about in the UK, is it the same everywhere?

As with spoken languages, signed languages have regional variations or dialects. This can often have amusing consequences such as the sign for meeting in some parts of Scotland is also the sign for sex in some parts of England.

What is Sign Supported English?

Sign Supported English or SSE is not considered to be a language as it does not have its own grammatical structure or vocabulary. It is more of a communication system that borrows vocabulary from BSL and grammer from English i.e. it could be described as sign language in an English word order. SSE is preferred by some Deaf people.

What is International Sign?

International Sign is a signed system for use internationally. Although not a separate language, the nearest equivalence would probably be a signed esperanto. Although the vocabulary is more gestural there are borrowings from the major signed languages. There are also variations depending on which hemisphere the users are from as there are distinct differences between northern and southern hemisphere signed languages. International Sign is often used when Deaf people visit or emigrate to the UK, although they generally quickly pick up BSL.  Aditus can provide Interpreters who are proficient in International Sign, however there are a very limited number of interpreters with this skill and often it is much more advisable to book a Deaf Interpreter to co-work.  If you would like to book an international sign interpreter or a BSL Interpreter/Deaf Interpreter team please do complete our online booking form.

Why do Non-Deaf people learn sign language?

People learn sign languages for all sorts of reasons, just as people might learn other languages. For some it is a gateway into a new career, for others they may wish to enhance a professional service they already provide, (such as Social Workers). For many people it is a new skill that they find interesting and, as most courses are accessed in the evening in further education establishments, it is a subject that is both fascinating and different.