Learning a new language comes with a host of benefits and British Sign Language (BSL) is no different – taking a course could even help you with awards like the Duke of Edinburgh award.
BSL is the preferred language of around 145,000 people in the UK. It is recognised as an official minority language by the UK government and learning it comes with a host of benefits.
Simon Harvey is the founder of British Sign UK, an independent organisation that produces online and digital resources for learning BSL.
“To learn even a small amount of BSL can be a fun activity for anyone to do and can really make such a big difference to those who rely on BSL for their day-to-day communication,” explains Simon.
BSL is commonly used by people who are D/deaf/HoH for everyday communication, along with their loved ones, friends and professionals, but anyone can learn the language.
“As more people learn to be able to communicate using BSL the more inclusive our communities become,” adds Simon.
The course is also a great addition to your CV or higher education application if you are interested in working with children or adults in education, healthcare or customer service roles.
Duke of Edinburgh
British Sign UK’s popular online course, Introducing British Sign Language, is CPD certified and is suitable for anyone over the age of 12. The information is easy to follow and interactive, with high quality videos throughout each of the 10 lessons.
It’s fun, too, Simon says: “At the end of each lesson there is a quiz which makes it easy to keep track on how you are doing through the course and makes the course engaging and fun.
“You can even take the course on your phone or tablet.”
Once you have scored at least 85% on each of the lessons you are awarded a certificate. The course can even be used as an activity for the three-month skill section of your bronze or silver Duke of Edinburgh award.
“Our course is perfect for this time-frame,” emphasises Simon. “We ask DofE participants to let us know when they start the course so that we can monitor their progress and activity on the course.
“Once a participant has completed their three months, we then write a personalised assessor report outlining their achievements.”
There’s plenty of resources to get you started on the path to learning BSL, but Simon recommends starting with fingerspelling. This is where you represent letters of the alphabet with hand movements.
Fingerspelling is often used in sign language to spell out names of people and places for which there isn’t a sign.
“A really great place to start learning BSL is through fingerspelling,” says Simon. ” There are lots of free resources online for learning fingerspelling, including some fun games.”
“After getting to grips with fingerspelling it would be a good idea to look up other online resources and courses,” he continues. “Our online course, Introducing British Sign Language, is a great place to begin.”
Before you know it you’ll be an expert in BSL, using it in everyday life to make your school and wider society more inclusive.
Learn more about BSL and the British Sign UK online courses here.