British Sign Language

The British Sign Language or BSL is the Sign language that is used widely by the people in the United Kingdom. This Language is preferred over other languages by a large number of deaf people in the United Kingdom. It is estimated that there are about thirty thousand to seventy thousand people who use this language.

Like all the other languages, the British Sign Language makes use of lip patterns and body language instead of sound. It involves combining, simultaneously hand shapes, movement of the hands and its orientation along with the movement of arms or body and the facial expressions to express person’s thoughts.

There are over thousands of people who are not deaf who also use the British Sign Language to communicate with their friends or relatives who might be deaf. There also exist many sign language interpreters who make communication between deaf and other people easy. The British Sign language is to a large extent influenced by the spoken English of the region. This language largely differs from the American Sign Language also known as ASL.

The finger spelling used by the British sign language is also different from the finger spelling used by the American Sign Language. Here both the hands are involved in finger spelling whereas the American Sign Language uses just one. The BSL also differs to a large extent from the Irish Sign Language (ISL) and the French Sign Language, which is more like the ASL.

The British Sign Language largely influences sign languages that are used in many countries like New Zealand, Australia that is the New Zealand Sign language and the Australian respectively. The manual alphabet and the grammar patterns used by all these languages are very similar.
Earlier the sign languages like Scottish, Welsh, Gaelic and Irish were well known and were recognized. The British sign language users ran a campaign to make BSL a recognized language like the others. Later in 2003, March the United Kingdom Government let BSL be a recognized language, but it has no legal protection.

Hence it’s not yet the official language though it is used widely. The British Sign Language also has many regional dialects. For instance the people of Southern England might not understand the sign language that’s used in Scotland and the sign language that’s used in Southern England may not be understood by the people of Scotland.

Some sign languages also often undergo changes and evolve to form something different over a period of time. The British Sign language is taught throughout the United Kingdom and there exists three-examination system to aid this. The courses are generally provided either by the local centers for the Deaf people or private organizations.

There are also community colleges that teach this. There exists a council called The Council for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People (also known as CACDP or CAP) that has the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). It provides awards at three levels which is the elementary level, the intermediate level and the advanced level.