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 its 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 communication 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.
SIGN SUPPORTED ENGLISH (SSE)
Another form of signing used in Britain is known as Sign Supported English (SSE). SSE is not its own language. 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 alongside their signing, or by people who mix mainly with hearing people.
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.