Sometimes when we think about languages in general, we might be likely to miss out Sign Language, and especially British Sign Language (BSL). Just to give you an idea, BSL was recognized as a minority language in Britain in 2003 and it is spoken as a first language by between 30,000 and 70,000 people in the UK. Even if it is not spoken, you can still find regional variations and even ways of signing that exist only in a specific area, in the same way that the Mancunian accent differs from the Geordie one. However, the way sentences are constructed in BSL doesn’t have anything to do with the English language.
Until recently, I believed that American Sign Language and BSL were the same because both Britain and the US are English-speaking countries (although I am aware of the differences between American and British English). False! Actually, a friend who has been studying BSL for quite a long time told me that American and British Sign Languages are very different from each other.
Since BSL is a proper language, there are certifications that you can study for, as well as you would do for English, French, German and so on. In addition, you could become an interpreter or a CWS. BSL interpreters have their own body – the Association of Sign Language Interpreters – which provides further training as well as information to those who wish to become qualified interpreters. On the other hand, CWSs are Communication Support Workers. They mainly work in education, schools, colleges and universities, supporting Deaf learners to communicate with their teachers and other learners. They also have their own body, the Association of Communication Support Workers.
And finally, would you like to try a few words in BSL? There are several websites where you can find words signed, here is a nice one I have found. Enjoy it!