Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Getting to know... BSL

British Sign Language or BSL is used by most signers in the UK - a group numbering between 50 and 70,000 people. The earliest British account of signing dates back to a wedding in 1575, where the groom used signs during the ceremony. Samuel Pepys's account of the great fire of London in 1666 refers to a 'dumb' boy who describes the fire using "strange signs". This 'home signing', as it is known, was an ad hoc gesturing system developed by deaf children which would not have been passed down generations or across deaf communities. In 1760, Edinburgh teacher Thomas Braidwood started Braidwood's Academy for the Deaf and Dumb which is considered the first school for the deaf in Britain. The sign language he used later became British Sign Language.