British Sign Language (BSL): Guide

Dani Sive (Headteacher Frank Barnes School) and Catherine Drew (Key Stage 1/2 Team Leader Frank Barnes School) | View as single page | Feedback/Impact

Using BSL with deaf children

This MESH guide should be used in conjunction with the Early Support for deaf children 0-5 years MESHGuide.  It is one of a series of MESHGuides which aims to help parents make an informed choice about how they communicate with their deaf child.

The National Deaf Children's Society provides information about language and communication and has information for families about choosing an approach.


Success from the Start

The NDCS has developed a new resource to help families of deaf children observe, monitor and record early childhood progress. Success from the start: A developmental resource for children aged 0-3, can be used to monitor a child's progress understanding and using BSL, to celebrate their success and help to support further progress.


Using BSL with young children

Early language input for deaf children is as vital as early language input for hearing children. Deaf children may not acquire spoken language as quickly or as easily as hearing children, so delaying language acquisition is a risk to the deaf child’s language development. Learning and using BSL early in addition to using spoken language can support the deaf child’s language development and reduce the risk of language deprivation. 

Top tips to learning BSL:

1.    Sign up and join a BSL class/course

2.   Download an app to learn some basic signs

3.   Meet deaf people

4.   Ask your child’s TOD for support

5.   Be expressive – make information visual

6.   Watch programmes with BSL on TV or online

7.   Set yourself a challenge to learn 5 or 10 new signs a week

8.   Be patient – learning a new language takes time

9.   Keep practising

10. Have fun and enjoy learning BSL!