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British Sign Language Basics

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Featured image for blog on British Sign Language Basics courtesy of RNID

According to Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), hearing loss affects 1 in 5 adults in the UK and that there are 12 million people in the UK who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus.  Being deaf, having hearing loss or tinnitus is clearly a limitation for many hobbies (as well as day-to-day), but what can we all do to help?  Deaf awareness is a huge area, but I think that if we can all know a tiny bit of British Sign Language it’s a start.

British Sign Language (BSL) is the most common form of sign language in the UK.  It uses combinations of hand shapes and movements, as well as lip patterns, facial expressions and shoulder movements.  It has been an official language in Britain since 2022. 

As the structure and grammar of BSL is different to English, learning BSL takes time, commitment and often money to pay for courses.  But I think it has to be a good thing if we all at least know a few British Sign Language basics? 

Finger Spelling

The alphabet of British Sign Language is finger spelling.  This is a wonderful chart by RNID that shows finger spelling.

Finger spelling of BSL alphabet diagram for basics of british sign language blog

British Sign Language Basics

I’ve come across this great YouTube video of basic greetings, manners and phrases in BSL by @CommandingHands.  It’s really worth watching.

Thank you to RNID for images and background information. This is a good starting page for this topic – https://rnid.org.uk/information-and-support/deaf-awareness/british-sign-language/

Do you have any advice for learning the basics of British Sign Language?


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Dr Eleanor Rogerson founded Hobby Aids because she believes hobbies are good for you and limitations shouldn't stop doing what you enjoy. She is based in North Lincolnshire, UK.

Her background is chemistry, but after years in industry she wanted to work for herself and so went self-employed. During this time she mainly worked as a gardener. Recently she has been diagnosed with arthritis in her hands, which has caused her to discover the gap in the market to cater for hobbies for people with limitations.

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