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Deaf history

Understanding Deaf* history and the impact of Parliamentary decisions on those with profound hearing loss is key to appreciating the barriers faced by sign language users in the modern world.

Deaf people have fought for equality for over 100 years and continue to fight, despite recent events that will increase access to services (British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015).

The internet has helped increase interest in British Sign Language (BSL) by both members of the public and politicians. Hopefully, BSL’s popularity will translate into equality and improved access. (Deaf* refers to native sign language users who view themselves as members of a linguistic minority).

Deaf history summary

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Top 10 websites to learn British Sign Language (for free!)

Learning sign language is incredibly popular and we know that finding websites where you can learn for free, or practise what you have learned, are hard to find. So, we feel it is our duty to share our knowledge and help make the world a  more inclusive place to be. To be honest, we’re surprised this list wasn’t created sooner, but better late than never!

BSL Signbank:
http://bslsignbank.ucl.ac.uk

BSL Signbank is a great resource for anyone learning sign language. You can practice fingerspelling and look up a wide variety of signs. There is also a link to the BSL Corpus Project (see below) which has numerous video clips of Deaf people using BSL.

BSL Corpus Project
http://www.bslcorpusproject.org/data/

BSL Corpus Project is a fantastic website for people already learning BSL. The site provides a wide selection of video clips showing ‘Deaf voices’ from across the UK. This website is great for improving your understanding of sign language.

Signworld
http://www.signworldlearn.com/

Signworld is useful to both tutors and learners alike. Learners can try the first lesson for free and then subscribe for further lessons. This site is often recommended to learners who attend sign language courses.

Signature
http://www.bslhomework.org.uk/

Signature is an awarding body for sign language qualifications. You can access free video content of signs from the first module of the Level 1 qualification.

Actual Signs
http://www.actualsigns.com/BSL_Dictionary-i-123.html

Actual Signs has a great BSL dictionary. There are a variety of signs under each initial of the alphabet. There are also video clips for topics such as countries. This site is great for those who want to increase their range of vocabulary or for those that need to practice.

Sign BSL
http://www.signbsl.com/

Sign BSL is another sign language dictionary that has over 21,000 video clips on the site. This website also allows people to upload their own version of a sign.

Spread the Sign
https://www.spreadthesign.com

We love this website as the site is an international sign language dictionary. So you can learn a number of signed languages – we just hope you don’t get the languages mixed up!

 NDCS Family Sign Language
http://www.familysignlanguage.org.uk/mainpage.htm

This is our favourite site because it’s a great resource for families who can learn sign language together. This is a great website for parents who might be unable to access sign language classes and who want to learn how to communicate with their child.

Signstation
http://www.signstation.org

Signstation has an excellent resource titled ‘Learn BSL – The Company’ that explains how to be deaf aware at work. We recommend this resource to organisations that are considering improving the diversity of their workforce.

Mobilesign
http://www.mobilesign.org/

Mobilesign can be used to learn BSL on the move. The app is free and gives you access to thousands of signs. A great app if you are on a long journey and need to pass the time.

So there you have it – we could add many more websites to our list. However, these sites have been chosen for their accessible video content which is essential for learning a visual language.

Of course, nothing beats attending a class. Learning and using sign language are two very different skills – how else are you going to put your fantastic signing skills you learn online, into practice? Attending classes enables you to check that you can put all the elements of sign language together in a coherent fashion so you can actually communicate with someone who is deaf. Classes are also a great way to make new friends and start a potential new career path too.

We hope you enjoy visiting the free sign language sites that are on offer. Feel free to share with friends and family who might want to learn too and don’t forget to check out our sign language classes!