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What is BSL?
What is BSL all about? British Sign Language or BSL is a visual-spatial language that is used by some deaf people as their first or main language. BSL is like any other language in that there are regional variations (much like accents in English). For example, there are over 15 signs for purple! Sign Language is grammatically different from English. Many people get confused between Makaton, BSL and SSE (Sign Supported English). Whilst they are all valid means of communication, sign language is the only one recognised as a language with a grammatical structure, vocabulary and so on.
There are an estimated 80,000 deaf native sign language users in the UK. This is likely to be an underestimate as NDCS figures suggest there are 45,000 deaf children currently in the UK. By contrast, the British Deaf Association estimates that there are over 150,000 sign language users but this figure includes professionals such as sign language interpreters.
British Sign Language is a recognised language in the UK and is now protected in Scotland under the BSL Act 2015. The BDA campaigned for legal recognition of BSL in England and the British Sign Language Act has now received royal assent. This means British Sign Language is now an official language of the UK.
About Access BSL
Access BSL was created with you, the learner in mind. Learning Sign Language should be easy and can be fun. However, the current market is confusing and complicated with so many online BSL courses on offer. It is difficult to tell which ones give you a genuine qualification and which ones are just for fun so this site has been designed to suit you, the modern learner’s needs.
On this site, you will find details about flexible and structured courses as well as courses that give you a taste of what BSL is all about. We research and review BSL courses for you so you know which courses are worth spending money on.
As a site, we encourage you to choose a structured course that provides consistent, regular support from a qualified sign language teacher. The added bonus is that you gain a recognised qualification.
However, we recognise that courses vary in price so we review the courses on offer to help you decide which course best suits your needs. Our primary aim is to support you in communicating effectively with Deaf sign language users…and to make sure there is a bit of fun thrown in for good measure!
Our publishing team consists of qualified Deaf tutors, C.O.D.As (Child of Deaf Adults) and Sign Language interpreters. We work together to provide you with up to date relevant resources (which includes the latest research into BSL linguistics) to help your learning.
This site and the courses we recommend are based on research we undertake so you have the most up to date information.
We encourage you as a BSL learner to get involved and support your local Deaf Community. Learn about Sign Language and Deaf Culture because there is so much that you can learn from Deaf individuals about communicating effectively.
Where do I start?
If you are here that means you want to start learning Sign Language to improve and develop your communication skills when you meet a native sign language user.
The good news is, we have prepared everything to help you achieve your goals. From here you can either:
- Look at our recommended courses or
- Read our guides and study tips to support your BSL learning journey
We hope you enjoy the content we worked so hard to put together for you. If you have any suggestions for content you would like to see, then please contact us, we’d love to hear from you!
Access BSL Values
We believe in having a positive impact on all our stakeholders by pledging to be sustainable. We do this by focusing on people, supporting the planet and sharing profits.
People: We support the employment of Deaf tutors who teach BSL. It is important to value their skills and talents to keep Deaf Culture alive.
Profits: We pledge to donate 1% minimum of any profit this site makes so that we can be a force for good in the world.
We already invest in our local Deaf Community by setting up projects that support Deaf Culture and community life and will continue to do so.
The Access BSL Team