colours in bsl

BSL Signs for Colours across the UK

What are the BSL signs for colours across the UK? You may be aware that there are regional variations in the signs for colours. You will need to know some of the regional variations as you become fluent in BSL. We have provided a guide below to show you some of the variations. Why not test your knowledge using the resources below!

Table of Contents

Colours from across the UK:

Native signers usually know more than one sign for each colour. They will know their own regional dialect and other signs from across the region. They may know a number of different signs for colours particularly if the person travels across the UK (which most native signers do). This is why it is helpful for learners to know the different signs for colours too.

It is important to note that one sign is not more important than another so the videos are in no particular order.

Northern Ireland

This video shows the BSL signs for red, blue, green, yellow, black, white, orange, pink, purple, brown, cream, grey, gold, silver, bronze, light blue, dark green, bright pink and navy.

South East England:

This video from B.S.L training explains that signs are different across the UK. The clip shows the signs for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, white, grey, black, brown, pink, silver and gold.


This clip is from NDCS. The clip shows the signs for red, yellow, pink, green, purple, orange, blue, black, brown, grey, light, dark, silver and gold.


This video explains how signs might be used in everyday life. The clip also explains the welsh signs for red, blue, green, yellow, black, pink, purple, orange, brown, grey, white, navy, gold, silver, bronze, dark, light, dark blue and light pink.

Why are there regional variations in Sign Language?

You will notice that some signs are the same e.g. orange while others are different. It is not clear why some signs appear to be used across the UK while others do not. Just remember, that as a learner you will come across signs you do not recognise so it is important to have the confidence to ask. Native signers would prefer you ask about a sign than pretend you understand what is being signed.

Sign language is not universal. Historically, signs were developed regionally, and most modern BSL was usually developed at Deaf schools. BSL regional signs are really different dialects. Unlike accents which focus on how a word is pronounced, dialects use different signs to mean the same thing. For example, there are over 17 signs for purple. BSL is no different to any other language including English, which has multiple words for bread roll. Native and fluent signers have no problem understanding each other, despite the regional variations in signs.

The best resource for regional variations of colour signs and other topics such as numbers is the BSL Corpus Project which has created the BSL Sign Bank.

Th BSL Corpus Project is one of our recommended resources for learning BSL. You can test your knowledge and receptive skills of BSL colours, place names around the UK and countries with the BSL Signbank Quiz.

Research suggests that BSL signs are changing and we are losing the regional variations of some signs, including colours. There are a number of reasons for this. For example, it is now easier to travel so learning regional variations is easier. However, the main change is the internet. We can observe signs (mainly taught by non native signers who are themselves learners) of BSL.

The problem with learning this way is that we are losing many of the ‘old BSL signs’ that give richness and diversity to British Sign Language. This is why learning from qualified native Deaf signers is so important – tutors are integral to preserving and maintaining British Sign Language and deaf culture.

What are the colour signs for your region? You can find out by contacting your local deaf centre or deaf club.

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