British Sign Language

BSL Media

BSL Zone

The British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust (BSLBT) commissions television programmes made in British Sign Language by deaf people for Ddeaf people.

Why BSL?

British Sign Language is typically used by the Deaf community in the UK.  Some deaf people do not use BSL, others use some BSL, some use a mixture of BSL and English (sometimes called Sign Supported English), while others use 'full' BSL. 

BSL timeline

Sign Language

Articles, Journals, Books and Research Evidence in Sign Language

Adam, R., 2015. Standardization of sign languages. Sign Language Studies, 15(4), pp.432-445.

Branchini, C., 2014. On relativization and clefting: An analysis of Italian Sign Language (Vol. 5). Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG.

Cormier, K., Smith, S. and Zwets, M., 2013. Framing constructed action in British Sign Language narratives. Journal of pragmatics, 55, pp.119-139.

BSL Corpus project (DCAL)

The BSL Corpus Project was funded in 2008 by the Economic and Social Research Council and based at the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre at University College London.  The project involved filming and collecting video clips of deaf people using BSL around the UK to improve the understanding of BSL use and structure, as well as be used in deaf education, sign language interpreting training and for BSL teachers.  Although the project ended in 2011, there is still

BSL Curriculum

The Sign Bilingual Consortium,  which consists of numerous schools across the UK, met in the Summer 2017.  It was agreed that there is a need for a BSL Curriculum for Primary and Secondary Schools with the aim of pupils learning BSL: its features; history and culture and most of all, the language itself to ensure that every child has the right to an education in their native sign language as well as for those learning sign language as a second language. 

BSL as a language

British Sign Language is a bona-fide natural language.  It was recognised by the UK government as an official minority language on 18th March 2003.  BSL is used as a preferred language by around 145,000 people who are deaf (2011).  BSL has its own vocabulary, grammatical structure and syntax that is independent of English, although the fingerspelling of words and some of the mouth-patterns used in BSL follow the mouth-patterns used in English, as well as some signs which are based on English words.  BSL uses handshapes, hand movements, gestures, body language and facial expressio

History of BSL

The Sign Community website gives a description of the early history of BSL, and the development of modern BSL into the 20th Century.  The British Deaf History Society BDHS was set up in 2006 to collect numerous artefacts, deaf artwork and paper archive collections of all kind


This section includes relevant articles, journals and books. 

Case Studies

In this column you will find out about how BSL is used in a range of contexts.


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