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.

25 Random Things

It’s doing the rounds and I’ve finally given in; these circulars are silly but they’re also fun to review after a year or so, plus it helps you to get to know me a little better if you’ve merely popped by my blog rather than being an avid reader.


Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

  1. I used to be a pretty good amateur dancer.
  2. And I purposely did a worse job of hiding being a Scout than one as a child.
  3. I started dancing because it was better than sitting on the sidelines whilst my sister did it for 3 hours each Saturday.
  4. I eventually went to competitions and won enough trophies to fill 3 shoeboxes.
  5. I still do the odd bit of dance in Scout/Guide Gang Shows.
  6. Before I was in a Gang Show I was in a Theatre Group for a year.
  7. Funnily enough my Secondary school aptitude test listed my top 2 careers as: 1) Actor, 2) Naval Architect.
  8. I have never pursued acting as a career although the skills section of my resume would be quite broad.
  9. I’m not an Architect either, although I like to think the creativity of acting + precision of architecture = Graphic Design.
  10. Scouting is still a major influence in my Life.
  11. I got my first real taste of confidence in myself at 18, and I owe it to one person.
  12. Oneday I hope to thoroughly convey the scope of my gratitude.
  13. Whilst I am very grateful to my teachers I think I could’ve learnt more at School if I had been educated using a different teaching method.
  14. Despite this, most of my grades were ‘B’ or better but I got at least one of every letter E-A*.
  15. Quote: “Smart enough to act stupid”.
  16. I will not let my children go to Sixth form, they will go to College, and University will be optional.
  17. Despite having 2 gap years I didn’t have enough life experience to choose a degree that would led to a career I would enjoy.
  18. But if I hadn’t gone I wouldn’t know what I enjoy (Drawing/Design).
  19. I believe I have designer skills equal to a 2nd year design student, despite having having a job as one.
  20. I’m very critical of myself and don’t take praise well if I don’t believe it first.
  21. Hence my natural instinct is to undersell myself.
  22. My New Year’s Resolutions tend to be to spend the year exploring a different personality trait, if I like the result I try to make it stick, if I don’t, I shrug it off with something else the following year.
  23. Socially I’m a Switch, I can be the Leader of a group or a member.
  24. Likewise I can have two minds about something, and alternate views in an argument sometimes confusing the responder!
  25. This means that I sometimes take the opposite role for daft propositions which makes me look dopey but lets me explore the root of someone else’s conclusion which is great for familiarity and I find fun.

Whilst this list is 25 items long I’ve actually told you more than 25 pieces of random information about myself and where possible connected them (however obscurely) to the preceding one. Don’t forget to ping back!

What I really learnt at University

Those that go to University do so to extend their knowledge in a particular field but inevitably also learn a lot in a variety of others. Depending on whether your course sustains your interest those life lessons might be more important than your diploma. I found out half way through my degree that it wasn’t for me, I persevered none-the-less and along with a feast of boring Comp Sci edu-ma-cation I learnt that following that I think are just as important:

  1. Speaking your mind is better than putting it in text.
  2. You learn a helluva more from accomplishing something difficult on your own than being taught how to do it.
    • It also takes longer.
  3. Aslong as your room is clean and tidy you don’t feel so bad about the rest of the house.
  4. Everyone is a small fish, most just don’t know the size the pond.
  5. Nothing stays free forever.
  6. They mock you for being prepared but they love it when it pays off.
  7. Girls are frequently cold.
  8. One girl is a good investment of your time; otherwise have caution.
  9. Grammar is your friend.
  10. Exceed expectations/achieve your best as often as possible.
  11. Appreciate what you’ve got, and keep it if you can.