Sign Language Week will be running from 13th - 19th March 2023 and is run on an annual basis by the British Deaf Association (BDA). It is celebrated each year in March to coincide with the anniversary of the recognition of BSL by the British Government in 2003.
The theme for Sign Language Week 2023 is: “Protecting BSL”.
The aim of the campaign is to encourage people of all ages across the UK to take up the challenge of learning BSL for themselves and finding out more about the language and culture of the Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing British people for whom BSL is their first or preferred language.
The positive impact of BSL on thousands of Deaf and hard of hearing people are often under appreciated. Our goal is to make everyone realise the importance of BSL, and how awareness can make a big difference.
In partnership with the British Deaf Association (BDA), we will be hosting the UK’s largest British Sign Language (BSL) lesson online with primary schools across the UK.
In April 2022 a Bill to recognise British Sign Language as a language of England, Wales and Scotland was passed by the UK Government; to require the Secretary of State to report on the promotion and facilitation of the use of British Sign Language by ministerial government departments; and to require guidance to be issued in relation to British Sign Language.
Our lesson will give you and your school the opportunity to learn BSL from a Deaf teacher, as well as the wider benefits for children is such as strengthened improved communication skills and confidence, new ways for them to express emotions, and an appreciation of the diverse cultures of the UK.
British Sign Language is a visual means of communicating using gestures, facial expression and body language with its own vocabulary, grammar and syntax. It is not dependent upon or related to English and is used mainly by people who are Deaf or to support those who have a hearing loss.
Similarly, to spoken language, there are regional variations. For example, the sign for ‘holiday’ which has around 10 -12 sign variations is dependent upon the area of the UK that you are in.
British Sign Language is predominantly used by people who are either deaf or have a hearing impairment.
British Sign Language (BSL) is the preferred language of over 87,000 Deaf people in the UK. There are a total of 151,000 individuals in the UK who can use BSL - this figure does not include professional BSL users, Interpreters, Translators, etc unless they use BSL at home.
Signature has hundreds of centres across the UK, including many that now offer online courses.
To find your local Signature centre enter your postcode in the centre finder a little further down this page.
According to RNID
There are 12 million people with hearing loss across the UK, that's around one in six of us.
By 2035, they estimate there'll be around 14.2 million people with hearing loss across the UK - that's one in five.
There are some 151,000 Deaf adults and children in the UK who use BSL and for 87,000 of them, BSL is their preferred means of communication. (BDA)
There are 50,000 children with hearing loss in the UK. Around half are born with hearing loss while the other half lose their hearing during childhood.
An estimated 900,000 people in the UK have severe or profound hearing loss.
More than 40% of people over 50 years old have hearing loss, rising to 71% of people over the age of 70.
There are 7.1 million adults in the UK living with tinnitus. (The British Tinnitus Association)
Signature is the leading awarding body for deaf communications qualifications in the UK.
Since beginning our work to promote and teach British Sign Language (BSL), we have supported more than 460,000 people to learn the British Sign Language.
We create qualifications that provide our learners with the skills they need to build successful careers. While as a charitable organisation, we work tirelessly to improve communication, by creating learning opportunities for every stage of life.
Signature was named ‘Awarding Organisation of the Year’ at the 2019 FAB Awards. The FAB Awards are run by the Federation of Awarding Bodies.
Myth 1: All signs across the country are the same
Incorrect, just like English, BSL has regional variations
Myth 2: BSL has the same legal status as English
Incorrect - since March 2003, BSL has been an officially recognised language but still has no legal protection. There is currently a BSL Bill going through Parliament as a private members bill that aims to give legal protection to the language. The 3rd reading for this will take place on Friday 18th March 2022 - Click here to find out more about the bill
Myth 3: BSL is just like Makaton
Incorrect - Unlike Makaton, BSL has it's own grammar, word order and regional variations.
Myth 4: All deaf people use BSL
Incorrect - of the approximate 12 million deaf people, around 87,000 use BSL.
Myth 5: Sign Language is a universal language
Incorrect - There is no universal sign language. Different sign languages are used in different countries or regions.
If you have been inspired to learn British Sign Language with Signature, you can find a centre in your local area that currently offers our qualifications. You can find the centre search tool here.
In 2022 we asked members of our board and the deaf community what Deaf culture was for them.
In 2019, to help raise awareness of BSL, we have enlisted the help of friends of Signature, MP’s, celebrities, sports clubs and notable organisations to create a short BSL video for us to share on social media.
We hope that this shows that support and understanding of BSL continues to grow, and that opportunities for people to get involved and learn are now more accessible than ever.
You can see some of the Organisations, celebrities and MP's who have got involved below.
West Ham United - Michail Antonio
West Ham United - Samir Nasri
West Ham United - Marko Arnautovic
Arsenal and England Womens Footballer - Beth Mead
Rachael Maskell MP
UK Space Agency
Intu Metro Centre
MacMillan Cancer Support
Lillian Greenwood MP
Thangham Debbonaire MP
Smethwick Fire Service - Blue Watch
Health Watch Dudley
Northants County Cricket Club
Preet Kaur Gill MP
Catherine McKinnell MP
Huddersfield Town Football Club
1st Burnmoor Beavers
Learning for Life