Why is British Sign Language Important?

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Importance Of BSL

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Are you curious about BSL? Ever thought of learning this sign language? If you are keen to know this language but not sure about the benefits of learning it, then find out why BSL is important from this blog and clear all of your doubts!

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Why is British Sign Language (BSL) Important

What is Sign Language?

Sign Language is a visual means of communicating using hand gestures, facial expressions, and body language. Like any spoken language, sign languages have their own grammar and lexicon.
Different countries have different sign languages, so sign language too, has regional dialects. There are several Sign languages like American Sign language, British Sign language, Australian Sign language, New Zealand Sign language etc.
Though deaf people mainly use sign language, it is no longer confined within the deaf community only. Sign language is also used by hearing parents and teachers of deaf children, sign language interpreters, providers of deaf social services, and so on.

How to become a sign language teacher?

Ans: If you desire to become a confident sign language teacher, we have good news for you. Now you can get a certification in sign language from the comfort of your home. All you have to do is visit Lead Academy and register with its online British Sign Language course.

What is BSL?

The acronym BSL stands for “British Sign Language.” It is the most common and preferred sign language for the deaf community in the UK. As per disabled-world.com, It is the first language of approx. 150,000 deaf people in the British Isles. 

The British Sign Language is itself a separate language. According to british-sign.co.uk, “After a big campaign, BSL was finally recognised by the UK government as an official minority language in 2003.”  Like any other language, it has its own vocabulary, syntax and grammatical structure. 

BSL involves a combination of facial expressions, hand gestures, upper body movements and lip patterns. It uses a two-handed alphabet, unlike ASL (American Sign Language). The British Sign Language is completely independent of the English Language.
British Sign Language
British Sign Language (BSL)

Some Facts about BSL:

British Sign Language (BSL) has been a recognised language of the UK since March 2003. It has all the usual elements of language like grammar, lexicon and sentence structure. BSL is not a translation of spoken words, rather it’s a language itself.

According to weston.ac.uk, Over 125,000 adults in the UK use British Sign Language, and many more people know how to communicate using it. In fact, 15,000 people living in England and Wales use British Sign Language as their main language.

Lip patterns are a significant part of BSL. The handshapes for some words might be similar but the lip patterns are different. For example, the signs for ‘uncle’, ‘aunt’, ‘nephew’ and ‘niece’ have the same hand movements for which it can get confusing. Under such circumstances, lip patterns should be observed.
Just like spoken languages, BSL has regional dialects. For example, numbers and the days of the week have different signs in Manchester.
As per 121captions, “These regional differences come from the residential schools for the deaf in the 19th and 20th Centuries, where children and teachers would have their own unique signs. These children then grew up in that area, and so regions took on their own “accents”. So, it becomes difficult for a signer to understand the sign language of someone from another region of the country.
The British Sign Language is not universal. This sign language is as varied as spoken languages. BSL is similar to Australian Sign language, but it is entirely different from American Sign Language (ASL).
British Sign Language (BSL) at QLS Level 1 & 2

British Sign Language (BSL) at QLS Level 1 & 2

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This comprehensive British Sign Language (BSL) course is designed to enable learners to develop their skills to communicate with Deaf people using British Sign Language (BSL) in a range of everyday situations. This British Sign Language (BSL) course will set you up with a solid foundation in British Sign Language (BSL) and develop more advanced skills.| By Lead Academy

What is ASL?

Like BSL, ASL or American Sign Language is another form of sign language used throughout the US and in some parts of Canada. ASL uses a one-handed alphabet like the French and Irish Sign languages. According to startasl.com, American Sign Language (ASL) is the natural language of around 500,000 deaf people in the US and Canada.

American Sign Language (ASL)
American Sign Language (ASL)

What’s the Difference Between ASL & BSL?

BSL and ASL both are sign languages, but there are differences between them. The most obvious difference is that while BSL uses a two-handed alphabet, ASL uses a single-handed alphabet.
The signing of alphabets and numbers in BSL is completely different from ASL. For example, in BSL, the letter ‘A’ is signed by touching the thumb of your non-dominant hand with the index finger of your dominant hand, whereas in ASL, ‘A’ is signed by making a fist with your palm facing out.

Which Sign Language should you Learn: ASL or BSL?

It actually depends on the person willing to learn the language. However, you should consider which sign language is used the most in the area you live in. If you live in the UK, you should learn BSL, and if you live in the US or in the English-speaking regions of Canada, you should go for ASL.

Relationship of BSL with Other Sign Languages:

BSL is a part of BANZSL or British, Australian and New Zealand Sign Language. All of these sign languages were derived from the sign language that was used in 19th century Britain. There are considerable variations among these sign languages. A BSL signer would not be able to understand an ASL signer since there exist differences between the two. Similarly, signers of the northern part of England may have difficulty understanding a signer from the southern part of England and vice versa.

Why is BSL Important?

There is a common belief that BSL is the language of the deaf community and can be used by them only. Whether you have hearing impairment or not, you can still learn BSL and use it for communication. BSL can serve various other purposes to hearing people as well. Some reasons why BSL is important are-

1. BSL acts as a Bridge between the Deaf and the Hearing people:

People with hearing impairment can feel isolated if they cannot communicate spontaneously. As a society, our responsibility is to address this issue and encourage the widespread use of an effective means of communication that can be employed. Learning BSL can ensure equality among the hearing and the deaf community.

2. Strengthens the bond with the Deaf Community:

If you love to make new friends, then there is a whole community of deaf people in the UK with whom you can be friends! Learning BSL would allow you to meet new people and build relationships.

3. Aids in Achieving a New Skill:

Learning a new language means achieving a new skill. Imagine in a public place, someone with hearing loss or speech impairment is trying to say something using gestural language, but no one is able to understand the signs. In a scenario like this, your knowledge of BSL can help the person from unwanted embarrassment.

Learn more about the British Sign Language by joining the BSL courses of Lead Academy from here. 

4. Helps to Communicate Better:

You might be in a music concert trying to talk to your friend, but your friend might not understand anything because of the loud music. How can you communicate then? If you know BSL, you can easily convey your message to your friend through hand gestures.
BSL can also be used while talking from a distance or in a place where silence is preferred, like a library or a doctor’s chamber.

5. Allows to Boost your Career Path:

If you are tired of your 9-5 job and thinking of switching to a new career, then you can opt for learning the British Sign language.

There are some specific situations where deaf people rely on BSL interpreters, for example, a medical emergency. In such a situation, interpreters can play a crucial role. According to uk.indeed.com, The average salary for a sign language interpreter is £17.82 per hour in United Kingdom. 

The knowledge of BSL would also allow you to work as a communication support worker, teacher of the deaf, provider of deaf social services and so on.

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Some Basic Signs of BSL:

Use your working hand in a cupped shape to stroke twice across the supporting palm, moving towards the heel of the hand.
Use both the index fingers to point up at the sides of your lips and make a short downward motion.
happy and sad sing language
Why is British Sign Language (BSL) Important

Conclusion:

To conclude, sign language opens the door to connecting with people having hearing difficulties. If you are living in the UK, then learning BSL would be preferable since it is the most common sign language in the UK. Now that you know why BSL is important, you can opt for learning the signs!
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