Language fact file: British Sign Language (BSL)

Number of native users: There are more than 87,000 Deaf users, from a total of 151,000 users. (source: British Deaf Association)

Learn some: The easiest way to communicate with a Deaf person using BSL is to finger spell words. Have a go using the RNID BSL Guide:

Fast facts:

  • Signing between deaf and hearing people has been around for hundreds of years. The first recorded use of it in the UK is in 1324, when a deaf man named John de Orleton used signs to formally transfer property rights to a family member. 
  • BSL is the fourth most widely used language in the UK. However, just as with spoken languages, there are regional accents, so users from different parts of the country might find each other harder to understand! 
  • Although we usually think of hand gestures when we talk about sign language, BSL also uses facial expressions and body language. It has its own grammatical structures, which do not mirror those of the spoken language at all. 

The Language Shop provides BSL interpreting. Ask your account manager if you would like more information.