Who uses BSL?
British Sign Language is the most important sign language of the UK although other sign languages (for example Irish Sign Language) are also used. The history of BSL can be dated back to the beginning of institutional education for Deaf children. The first school for the Deaf in Britain was established by the Braidwood family in Edinburgh in 1760. There is emerging evidence of earlier sign language communities in the UK but the language people used may not be related to BSL.
BSL is the ‘mother tongue’ for both deaf and hearing children of BSL-using Deaf parents. It is also used by deaf children and their hearing parents throughout the UK. Many people learn BSL as a second language every year for both personal interest and professional reasons. Some of those who learn BSL for professional reasons work with Deaf people in capacities such as sign language interpreters and teachers of the deaf.