• Ellen

BSL in the Community

A few weeks back now, Jo Grub (one of our very own podcasters) hosted an online BSL session for volunteers to learn some basic signs. BSL is all the more important right now, as with the whole world wearing masks it makes it harder for deaf or Deaf people to communicate. Please be aware that not all deaf/Deaf use BSL.


I feel I should probably explain why I am using two spellings for the word deaf. Well using a little d is generally used to describe a person with a severe hearing impairment. Deaf with a capital D is used for a person who has been deaf their whole life or someone who is deaf and identifies with Deaf culture. You can find out more about it here.


BSL stands for British Sign Language, and is one of two main forms of sign language in the UK the other type of sign language you will commonly come across is Makaton. The signs are similar but not the same, for new learners this could be confusing so be careful to know which signs go with which language. For many Deaf people BSL is their first language, which as it has a different structure than English can cause issues when trying to read subtitles written in English.


If you are communicating with someone deaf/Deaf it is important to be clear in what you are saying. Don't shout at them, talk calmly and clearly and make sure you are facing them. Another thing is to make sure they are aware you are talking to them, you can do this by waving or making eye contact. If you continue to have communication difficulties, try writing things down or re-phrasing what you are saying. You can learn more about deaf/Deaf awareness here.


If you would like to learn more about BSL you can start learning some basic signs with the BSL dictionary or try learning the alphabet so you can finger spell to people. You can also look for classes that teach BSL. For a fun way to practice your finger spelling skills check out the finger spelling game!

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