What is BSL?

British Sign Language (BSL) is the language of Britain’s Deaf Community. BSL is a language in its own right with its own grammatical structure and syntax. It is a separate language from English.

BSL makes use of space and involves movement of the hands, face, head and body and is used across the UK with regional dialects.

BSL is the first or preferred language of an estimated 70,000 Deaf people in the UK.

British Sign Language (BSL) is recognised by the UK Government as Britain’s fourth indigenous language after English, Welsh and Gaelic.

There is no standard written format for BSL, so TV programmes cannot be subtitled in BSL. The OFCOM regulator stipulates that 5% of all UK programmes must be made accessible through British Sign Language translation, and 80% of all UK programmes should have subtitles.

Access to services, education and employment for Deaf people is covered by the Equality Act 2010. Discrimination could also be challenged under laws relating to Human Rights.

FAQsMark Schofield