Learning Sign Language

I’ve retaken up an interest in learning (British) Sign Language, I first started learning in middle school and then dropped the interest entirely in Secondary school, partially because there were no obvious ‘clubs’ let alone a ‘Sign’ one. At University I received a bit of a culture shock at the first Freshers Fair; so many clubs and Soc’s to choose from! In the end I whittled it down to 2, first choice was the University of Bristol Guide and Scout (UBGAS) Club, after 15 years of Scouting I was hardly going to give it up now! The second choice was the Kayaking club with the intention of completing the Physical part of my Queen Scout Award (which I now have 😉 ).

At the beginning of my second year I joined the Sign Society (which was Monday nights) but one day in the Student Offices I was asked to sit at a computer and rig up a picture in Photoshop (v7.0). The closest I’d ever come to doing anything like that was in 1996 using Paint Shop Pro (v3.14) which was probably around at v8.0 then. Anyway, PS made things so easy compared to PSP and I enjoyed it so much I started helping out with the Student Publications and in doing so found what I wanted to do as a career, but they also met on Monday night. 🙁

So with Scouting and Design taking up the remainder of my time in academia I didn’t get to continue my Signing. Now with no Schooling, and no F/T Job to fill my days I started scouring the web for some services to encourage my learning. The search has been fruitful, and I’ve gotten some positive feedback on the forums I’ve posted queries on. I’ve had 2 emails asking how my search went, one of which was from Sarah she’s a PhD student focusing on “the ways in which the internet-based technologies of ‘Web 2.0′ are changing and perpetuating disability” which is right up my street, also in a recent post she mentions Douglas Adams so we know she also has good taste!

So at the bequest of Sarah and knowing that some Facebook friends also Sign I’ve listed some of the resources I’ve found and my thoughts about them below.

Learning Sign Language

Signed Language

Description: Has all the basic signs for everyday life, topics and questions as well as other forms of communication for and with deaf people.

Thoughts: I really like the content of this site, it talks about learning BSL and the culture surrounding its use. A lot to read with advertising that isn’t intrusive or obstructive, so its a good karma site.

British Sign Language

Description: A site using moving pictures to show the basic signs for British Sign Language.

Thoughts: A great dictionary, mostly containing nouns and pronouns although there are some Adjectives and Adverbs there too.

British Sign

Description: Learn British Sign Language.

Thoughts: If you really want to further your Sign Skills this seems like a well developed place to start. Its got some free resources but there are more comprehensive video dictionaries out there. Some of the advanced resources are for sale.

Sign Language Lookups

Mobile Sign

Description: Sign Language Help to your mobile.

Thoughts: What an excellent online resource, if only you could get the information directly to your brain… Sarah pointed me at this one.

Qia Resources 4 ICT

Description: Deaf professionals and BSL specialists have now come together to translate terminology used in ICT, and you can see these signs at this website.

Thoughts: I can easily image as new words are created for new mediums (the word blog for example) which is a portmanteau of web and log how would you sign it? Spell it every time? I think not. This site aims to facilitate standardisation of these terms.

Spread the Sign (GB)

Description: The sign language dictionary for the world – 100% Free

Thoughts: Free, free you say? Great! This is an international sign directory. I’ve pointed you at the Great Britain / United Kingdom bit.

Learning Sign on a theme

Science Signs

Description: the online BSL/English glossary for science education

Art Signs

Description: An online British Sign Language (BSL)/English glossary for art, design and communication.

Engineering Signs

Description: The online BSL/English glossary for engineering and the built environment

Sign Language Fun

Beautiful BSL

Description: Deaf Comedian – John Smith is a profoundly Deaf BSL user. Following on from his hugely successful, first stand up appearance…

Thoughts: I think this would be a good goal to set myself, learn to read and say Sign with enough confidence to want to go see a show. (There are many ways to have fun with Signing, this is just one I thought to mention.) Article about him being in the Guardian.

Signed Stories

Description: Lots of great books to see in sign language and subtitles.

Thoughts: After you’ve learnt to say a vocabulary you’ll need practice reading one and I think kids stories would be a rather good start, the short and direct sentences mean that you can pick out what you don’t know easier and learn it whilst you watch. I’m going to start with Not Now Bernard and the King Rollo stories which I watched as a Child.

Link Directories

Deaf 247

Description: Directory of British Sign Language and deaf related resources.

Thoughts: Its got a fold-under and 3 large and intrusive link banners, 1 of which overlaps content if your monitor isn’t wide enough which to me drops a its ‘spam karma’ to about zero, however looking beyond its spam connotations there are many links to deaf sites, and a few sparkling to useful Sign sites.


If you happen to know of any websites that are worth a look but are unfortunately hard to find I’ve love if you’d post a link here so I can have a look.