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Four ways to learn sign language this Deaf Awareness Week

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 | Blog

It’s currently Deaf Awareness Week, an annual event that aims to raise awareness of the hardships that the deaf and hard of hearing community face each day. In the UK alone there is estimated to be around 900,000 partially or profoundly deaf people, along including 45,000 children that are deaf. Worldwide there is 360 million people that are deaf, which is 5% of the total population! This is why it’s so surprising that outside of the deaf community, there are very few people that are actually able to communicate via sign language.


Much like spoken language, there’s different national variants of sign languages right across the world.There is no official timeline for British Sign Language (BSL), but it is believed that the modern version of BSL dates back to the 18th century. Since then the language has evolved into one of the most common forms of communication for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Now that you know a little about BSL, it's time to find out how you can learn the language.

1. Mobile Phone Apps

There’s a mobile phone app for pretty much everything these days, which means it is no surprise that there are multiple apps dedicated to teaching sign language. Sign BSL is an app that enables users to search for common words and phrases that are signed by members of the apps user base. It’s not the most user friendly app in the world, and it could probably do with a redesign, but it does give users quick and easy access to a library of signs - something that would work perfectly if you are stuck in a pinch and need to know the sign for something. Click the following links to download the app on your store of choice:

Sign BSL on iOS App Store

Sign BSL on Google Play

2. YouTube Tutorials

There’s a YouTube tutorial for everything - there’s probably even one on how to create a YouTube tutorial - and there’s a lot of videos based around learning sign language. Just entering the search term “learn British Sign Language” yields 845,000 results, so it’s safe to say that YouTube has you covered. There’s a few different YouTubers that have whole channels devoted to teaching the different forms of sign language, so it is really all about finding the right person that works for you.

3. Online Courses

Online courses are an excellent source of knowledge and information that can be digested in a way that best suits your schedule. There are loads of different signing courses available online, all of which are geared towards teaching different aspects of sign language. There’s loads of different sites and courses available, why not start with british-sign.co.uk a website that has a few different packages available. This isn’t the only online course though, and a quick Google search will give you plenty of choice.

4. College Courses

While online courses are very flexible, not everyone is comfortable with e-learning. No need to fret though as many local colleges provide affordable - and sometimes free if you meet the requirements - courses geared around introducing people to sign language. One of the main benefits of attending college courses is the physical feedback people gain during teaching. Having a two way conversation in a different language is one of the best ways to learn. To find signing courses near you, please contact colleges in your area.


Hopefully these few steps are enough to get you started. It may not seem like a necessity, but knowing British Sign Language might make a big difference to someone else’s life one day. Knowing another language is also a very cool thing! Do you know sign language? How did you learn it, and has it ever enabled you to help someone out? Let us know in the comments below.


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