Used by about 70,000 people in the United Kingdom
, BSL is a language in its own right and not a translation
. It is almost always unintelligible to users of American Sign Language
, though both include many logical
signs that make it obvious what the speaker intends to say. Like ASL, British Sign Language
has its own grammar
, and while there are regional differences
the deaf community
is cohesive enough that signs are commonly understood.
Sign language has been used in Britain since before 1644, but schools for the deaf were not established until the late 18th century. In 1982 the Council for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People was established to encourage the use of BSL, and today there is an increasing interest in teaching deaf children in the language. Recently the language has been the subject of extensive research to better understand its underlying rules and structure. The UK requires signed interpretation in court, and a number of regional and national organizations exist for the deaf.