Posted by: learnsignlanguage | May 18, 2011

Deaf culture and sign language

There is a lovely video here about Deaf culture and sign language…take a look

Posted by: learnsignlanguage | April 22, 2011

Different sign language systems used in schools

Signed English (SE)

This is a system that is often used in schools to teach Deaf children the grammatical aspects of English, such as using word endings and plurals etc. For example, for the word ‘walking’ the sign for ‘walk’ would be used and then the ending of that particular word would be fingerspelt. Past tenses would also be shown along with other features. This is not a language in its own right – it is just a tool for teaching English.

Sign Supported English (SSE)

Sign Supported English is similar to Signed English, although it doesn’t fingerspell or fully represent the endings of words, ‘ing’, ‘ed’, etc. BSL signs are used but follow the format and structure of English. For example, if the phrase “I went shopping today and it was busy” was signed in SSE then the signs would follow the same structure as the sentence. However, if this was signed in BSL then the order of the signs would be slightly different and would most likely follow this format: “Me shopping today…busy”. This would be accompanied by the appropriate facial expressions to show that it was busy.

The balance of BSL signs to English varies greatly depending on the signer’s knowledge of the two languages. A single sign is often differentiated into a number of English words by clearly mouthing the word. To understand SSE you need good lip reading (speech reading) skills, as well as a thorough knowledge of English grammar.

Paget Gorman Sign System
The Paget Gorman Sign System was originated in Britain by Sir Richard Paget in the 1930s and developed further by Lady Grace Paget and Dr Pierre Gorman to be used with children with speech or communication difficulties, such as deaf children. It is a grammatical sign system which reflects normal patterns of English. The system uses 37 basic signs and 21 standard hand postures, which can be combined to represent a large vocabulary of English words, including word endings and verb tenses. The signs do not correspond to natural signs of the Deaf community. The system was widespread in Deaf schools in the UK from the 1960s to the 1980s, but since the emergence of British Sign Language and the BSL-based Signed English in deaf education, its use is now largely restricted to the field of speech and language disorder.


This is a system of communication that uses a vocabulary of “key word” manual signs and gestures to support speech, as well as graphic symbols to support the written word. It is used by and with people who have communication, language or learning difficulties. This includes people with articulation problems (for example, people with cerebral palsy), people with cognitive impairments which might be associated with conditions such as autism or Down syndrome, and their families, colleagues and carers. It can be used to help the development of speech and language in children, or by adults as a means of functional communication for every day use.

Communication using Makaton involves speaking (when possible) while concurrently signing key words. The sign vocabulary is taken from the local deaf sign language (with some additional ‘natural gestures’), beginning with a ‘core’ list of important words. However, the grammar generally follows the spoken language rather than the sign language. Makaton does make limited use of the spatial grammatical features of directionality and placement of signs. As Makaton is used in over 40 countries world wide, Makaton Keyword Signing varies from country to country.

Makaton was developed in the early 1970s in the UK for communication with residents of a large hospital who were both deaf and intellectually disabled. The name is a blend of the names of the three people who devised it: Margaret Walker, Kathy Johnston and Tony Cornforth.

Makaton is run by the MVDP (Makaton Vocabulary Development Project) which controls the copyright to Makaton and depends on the associated income for its funding. This restricts the use of Makaton pictograms to licensed educational programs and home use.

Other, simpler forms of manual communication have also been developed. They are neither natural languages nor even a code that can fully render one. They communicate with a very limited set of signals about an even smaller set of topics and have been developed for situations where speech is not practical or permitted, or secrecy is desired.

For more information and to learn sign language for free with our tips booklet and ‘Sign Language for Beginners’ DVD please visit

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Posted by: learnsignlanguage | April 20, 2011

Learning the basics of British Sign Language

Have you ever wondered what British Sign Language is?

It is a language that is used by approximately 150,000 Deaf people in the British Isles. Thousands more who are not Deaf (such as employers of Deaf people, relatives/friends and interpreters) use BSL

Is it easy to learn?

Well one of the first aspects of sign language that people learn is to fingerspell the alphabet. It is easier to learn the alphabet and signs from either a Deaf person themselves who signs or from a video or DVD… this is so you can see the exact movements more easily and the correct facial expressions. Sometimes people can learn the alphabet from a picture as well to help them to remember.

Sign Language is a visual language and the best way that you can learn it is to see it in action and watch the positions of the hands and the facial expressions. If possible try to find as many ways as you can to see someone signing because you can then really take notice of the vast hand movements, see the different facial expressions and can start to copy them. You can find lots of material on the internet, whether it is books, dvd’s, you tube videos or watching the signers on the TV.

As you progress with your learning you will probably learn basic greetings, numbers, colours and a few other topics to get you started. Once you start to learn BSL you may find it helpful to write down the things that you learn so you can practise it each week…remembering that British Sign Language IS a language and as such takes time and dedication to learn.Watching an instructional video can help you remember and see exactly how it should be done as you build up your vocabulary.

The more you practise the easier it will become. It will also help to practise with a friend.

You may find, like with many sign language beginners that it is more difficult to receive signing back from a Deaf person. Please rest assured If you’re finding it hard it DOES get easier! It’s crucial that you look at the Deaf person’s face rather than their hands. This may seem surprising but it is easier to understand the signs when you do this because you will automatically see the signs in your peripheral vision.

It is also helpful to attend regular social events/Deaf clubs where there are a number of Deaf people so that you can practise. Don’t be shy about looking at the signers or be worried that you won’t be able to understand them because as you get further and further into your sign language learning you will learn about rephrasing sentences or asking for clarification so that the message between you gets understood.Gradually you will learn more and more and will be able to have more in depth conversations using BSL and your confidence will grow.

My advice is to keep practising and use all the resources you can whether it’s from your Deaf friends, hearing friends who sign, DVD’s, books, or the internet etc. You will soon find that the more you learn the more you WANT to learn!

For more information and to receive a free tips booklet and ‘Sign Language for Beginners’ DVD please visit

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Sonia Hollis - EzineArticles Expert Author

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Posted by: learnsignlanguage | April 18, 2011

Etiquette when communicating with Deaf People

For communication to flow naturally and smoothly, be aware that a signer needs space for making his own signs and he needs to be able to see other signers from the waist upwards to get the full visual message. That’s why signers tend to sit or stand further apart than speakers of spoken languages do. A benefit of this of course is that signed communications can carry on at a distance or other situations that are impossible for speech!

Communication can be affected by ‘visual noise’ such as dim lights, glare, dazzle, bold wall patterns and anything in the physical background that may be distracting. This is the same as trying to have a spoken conversation as a loud motorbike roars past, or if you are in a group of people and everyone is talking at the same time.

There are rules and etiquette for smooth communication and conversation that need to be followed with sign language. So let’s begin with how you can get the attention of a Deaf person to begin communicating with them.

Getting attention

To start communicating with a Deaf person, it is necessary to get their attention. This can be done in various ways…If the Deaf person is quite close to you and is looking away, you can gently tap him on his shoulder or arm (tapping anywhere else is considered rude). If he is further away you can wave your hand. Another possibility is to make a vibration that will reach that person – for example, banging your fist on a table. The first two options (tapping the person on the arm or shoulder or waving your hand or an object to get his visual attention) are quite common when dealing with individuals.

In a group, it is slightly different. You could tap a bystander and ask them to relay your tap to the person whose attention you want to get. It could result in a whole chain of people tapping each other in order to get the attention of the desired person.

With larger groups you could flick the lights on and off. This is a useful way to make announcements to a whole group.

Some ways of getting attention are considered impolite. For example, you may see children trying to get the attention of their Deaf parents by trying to turn their heads or tugging at their chin. This form of attracting attention is unacceptable – unless the Deaf people concerned are in the middle of an argument and NEED the attention!

Flicking the lights on and off purely to get the attention of only one person is also considered rude. Only use this method if you want the attention of a group of people. Once the person has been contacted by a tap or wave and it is evident that communication is desired then the person receiving the signed message is expected to keep eye contact until a natural break occurs. It is normal for the signer and the recipient to be engaged in signed conversation and at least for one of them to be nodding (the equivalent in the spoken language of saying, “Okay, I understand”)

Both signed language and spoken language still follow the same rules of etiquette and turn taking but obviously in a slightly different way. For example in signed languages it is customary to ‘catch’ the signers attention when you want to interrupt, make a contribution or take your turn by just raising your hands ready to sign. If the other person is happy for you to take your turn then his hands will drop down.

The receiver can interrupt the sender by looking away or by waving for attention. He may also catch the senders eye by shaking his head or using a sign to indicate disagreement.

The sender shows that he has finished by dropping his hands from the signing space and looking at the receiver.

For more information about learning sign language please take a look at or to claim your free British Sign Language DVD and tip booklet ‘Sign Language for Beginners’ (for UK readers) go to

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Posted by: learnsignlanguage | April 14, 2011

Learn British Sign Language for Free

Learn Sign Language Ltd are pleased to announce the launch of our tip booklet and complimentary free DVD to help you learn British Sign Language for FREE…

To find more information and get started with the basics then please visit

Good luck and happy signing!

Best wishes


Posted by: learnsignlanguage | April 12, 2011

What is British Sign Language

Sonia Hollis is pleased to announce that she has ben awarded expert author status for Ezine articles…

check out for her first post…one of many!



Posted by: learnsignlanguage | April 11, 2011

Auslan An Introduction to Sign Language

There’s a secret language known amongst some select individuals in Australia. It’s a unique language with more colloquialisms and odd phrasings than any slang or pig latin that you can think of. It is “spoken” amongst an estimated 14,000 individuals with 2 established dialects, the Northern dialect in NSW and Qld and the Southern variety throughout the other states. It even enjoys its own exclusive community television channel, Channel 31 in Melbourne features specially developed programming, produced by volunteers.

This is Auslan, Australian sign language.

How is AUSLAN different?

Auslan has been officially recognised as the preferred language in the deaf community, emerging as part of the common instruction program for deaf children in the 1990s. Contrary to popular belief, sign language is not derived from its national spoken counterpart – so Auslan has practically no resemblance to spoken English. In fact, individuals from different nations with a common spoken language may have trouble communicating with each other as the gestures and structural formation can differ greatly.

Auslan is a derivative of BANZSL, which is the parent language for British Sign Language and New Zealand Sign Language, so these three languages have very similar patterns. Meanwhile, Auslan has borrowed some of its words from American Sign Language (ASL), especially those relating to technical terms. Outside of this, the signs between ASL and Auslan can be very different and unrecognisable between speakers – for example, ASL uses a one handed signed alphabet while the BANZSL varieties all use two handed letter signs.

Auslan and most other signed languages are unique in the way sentences are structured. For instance, there are no “state of being” verbs (am, are, is) in Auslan but they have been incorporated into signed English. Signed English is growing less popular as most individuals within the deaf community prefer to communicate in Auslan.

Auslan and hearing implants

For many hearing impaired individuals, hearing aids can significantly improve their hearing abilities, while cochlear implants are known to restore partial hearing abilities and has revolutionised the treatment for hearing loss in children. However, many individuals who do acquire cochlear implants may still prefer to use sign language to communicate especially during the initial adjustment period. Meanwhile, family members and loved ones of the deaf may often learn Auslan and use it as a preferred method of communicating within the home.

Cochlear implants are revolutionary ear implants that can help restore hearing to individuals with sensorineural impairment. For more information on hearings aids and communities for the deaf, visit the Cochlear website.

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Posted by: learnsignlanguage | April 9, 2011

Deaf not Dumb

I saw this fantastic video on youtube..excellent..

It just shows that all of us can learn sign language so we can all communicate on an equal footing…

Take a look

Posted by: learnsignlanguage | April 8, 2011

BSL and ASL youtube channel

We have now incorporated our youtube channel LSLSoniaHollis into our facebook account.

Please go to to check it out.

You will find lots of British Sign Language and American Sign Language videos on there

Have fun!


Posted by: learnsignlanguage | April 7, 2011

Various ways to learn sign language

An individual might be shocked to know there are various kinds of sign. Just like in the United States one will find several versions of the English Language, there are different types of sign languages. These types include Pidgin Signed English, Signed Exact English, true American Sign Language and Cued Speech. Plus, the American Sign Language is not used worldwide. Several countries have their own form also. But, even though quite a few nations will have their own kind, a person will notice a number of gestures are used universally. Consequently, when an individual decides to complete ASL classes they must make certain they are learning the correct form they want.

For folks who are just starting to learn, they will find there are many classroom courses and different educational options available. Depending on the way a person learns will determine the tactic one should use. For instance, when a person is easily embarrassed then internet based software packages or maybe books are a great option. However, in the event one prefers to be with people then traditional courses are a great alternative.

Books are a magnificent method for studying. Whether a person is sitting on an airplane or else sitting in a waiting room, they can use their books. However, books cannot show motion. Therefore several hand movements might end up being tough to figure out when using books. For those words, a person might choose to use a web based software program.

Many internet software programs supply American Sign Language classes given that this form is most known. Online software programs teach a person American Sign Language using videos. A video is ideal because one can view movement. A person could continue to view a hand motion until they have it memorized. Nonetheless, internet based software programs do not furnish documentation. For folks who must have certification, they should think about conventional schoolroom classes.

Standard classroom courses will be a different method one might consider when learning sign language. In case one will be acquiring knowledge of sign for a profession, then traditional classes are a magnificent option. One will dedicate a long time attending conventional classes. However, once a person will have fulfilled their schoolroom classes a diploma will be furnished. One who is certified by attending traditional schoolroom classes is a lot more inclined to get employment with a company compared to a person that does not have documentation.

A person possibly might consider using a couple methods to learn sign language. Perhaps one might attend American Sign Language classes through a community college plus get an internet software system. Perhaps an individual will purchase an online based program and a book. One will not find a single perfect method for everyone. Each person must determine what technique will work for them.

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