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 between 50,000 – 70,000 people within the UK.
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 Universal?
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, many of which are completely unrelated to BSL.
BSL – 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.
Just finished the introductory course, what a fantastic opportunity to learn something of value. I will be continuing further grades of BSL. Very Happy :)
I work with mentally ill people and it's sometimes frightening enough for them not to be able to communicate clearly due their illness without the frustration of being deaf too. I can now ease some of that frustration for any client in this position (and their relatives) to hopefully make their recovery easier. Wish I had done it much sooner. Loved it!
Fantastic!!! Having not known any BSL, this has been a god send in helping me communicate with a little boy who is sign supported in my care. Highly recommend and look forward to taking this to the next level.