Is Sign Language Universal?

Fact: There are an estimated of 138 – 300 different types of sign language being used to communicate in the world.

BSL is not English, it is not the same structure as English Language. For example, someone who uses speech would say “What’s your name? ” but a BSL user would sign “Name, Your, What?”

BSL isn’t just about tapping fingers and jumbling your hands together. It is a language with it’s own structure, vocabulary and grammar. It is how deaf people communicate with their friends and family.

However, it is not the same all over Britain. For example, even though a BSL user from London and a BSL user from Liverpool are using ‘BSL’ the same sign language, their signs may be different, they may have different signs for words and have an ‘accent’ within their sign language.

Danny shows a perfect example of how sign language can be #confusing. #PG RATED

Above is a skit that shows an conversation between a British (blue jumper) and Canadian (white shirt) sign language user.

Who uses sign language?

It’s not just Deaf people who use sign language. These people also use sign language too

  • Interpreters = interprets sign language from a deaf person to a hearing person to provide equal access to information/interactions.
  • Parents/Guardian’s of deaf children = parents/guardians of deaf children who have learnt sign language to communicate with their child
  • Professionals = professionals who have learnt sign language to be able to communicate with their employees and customers. They may also use this outside of their work.

How can I learn sign language?

Learning sign language isn’t ‘easy’. It’s just like learning any other language, it requires concentration, focus and commitment.

YouTube videos = made by organisations who have sign language qualifications or people who use sign language as their first language

Here are some links to YouTube videos

Learn Basic Greetings in British Sign Language – Exeter Deaf Academy

12 Fun, Friendly Phrases in British Sign Language

Sign language classes = you can contact organisations such as:

I hope this blog gives you more information and helps you to communicate better with Deaf people. Look out for my next blog which will be ’10 Top Tips on How to Communicate with Deaf people’