terptree: British Sign Language IS a language.....

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Monday, 2 January 2012

British Sign Language IS a language.....

Happy new year to you all and we felt the right way to start a new year was to talk about the wonderful language that is BRITISH SIGN LANGUAGE!

There are many people out there that want to learn more about sign language, whether you have a deaf member of the family, deaf friends, an interest in learning or are a BSL student, here is some fun information about Sign Language!

Is there only one Sign Language?

There are many Sign Languages throughout the world. Most countries have their own Sign Language. Some of these have been influenced by other Sign Languages and this depends on the historical links between those Deaf communities.

One example of this is an ex-pupil of the first school for the Deaf in Paris, Laurent Clerc. In 1817, he co-founded the first Deaf school in America. There are clear links between French Sign Language and American Sign Language as a result. British Sign Language (BSL) has links with Australian and New Zealand Sign Languages.

Where did Sign Languages come from?

Historically, wherever there has been a community of Deaf people, a Sign Language has usually naturally evolved as the way of communicating.

Until relatively recently Nicaragua did not have a Sign Language. Around 30 years ago, a special education centre and then a vocational centre was built. Once the community could meet regularly, a language developed and within 30 years a full Sign Language was evident.

In some places, such as Martha’s Vineyard in America in the 18th and 19th centuries, Sign Language was used all the time, as there were such a high number of Deaf people.

When was it recognised?

From the 1960’s, Sign Languages were studied by linguists and proven to be full languages in their own right. They were found to have the full grammatical features of other languages such as a certain order of signs and the ability to constantly evolve and change with time.

In the UK in March 2003, BSL was officially recognised by the British government as a language in its own right. Some local councils around the UK have adopted a BSL Charter showing their commitment to BSL and the Deaf community. The Deaf community in the UK still campaigns for further legal recognition of BSL in the UK and for councils to strengthen their policies on BSL in order to further the rights of Deaf people to their natural language in their everyday lives.

Further Information

Nicaraguan Sign Language


Martha’s Vineyard




Make your new years resolution to learn BSL today! Contact terptree to book yourself on a British Sign Language course on training@terptree.co.uk

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