UCL Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre


New living dictionary for British Sign Language

24 September 2014

Now anyone with an interest in British Sign Language (BSL) will have access to the first ever usage-based dictionary created at one of the world's leading research Universities.

The dictionary has been developed by academics at the Deafness Cognition and Language (DCAL) Research Centre based at University College London. The signs were collected from the BSL Corpus, a large collection of videos of signing that have been recorded and described.

It differs from other dictionary type BSL resources because it has been uniquely developed using the same principles as dictionaries for spoken languages. Until now, online dictionaries available to BSL users, and people learning the language, have consisted of BSL signs that are translation equivalents of English words, perhaps decided by one or a few people.

BSL SignBank is based on signs used by 249 Deaf people filmed all over the UK. Visitors will see more signs for colours, countries, numbers and UK place names than any other BSL dictionary.

Widget Placeholderhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPZNbUdY8og

We are delighted to launch BSL SignBank. It is a living dictionary and will grow as we view and study more of the BSL Corpus. We are sure it will be the most up-to-date and informative resource available as we will be using crowdsourcing to continually seek the views of the Deaf community on missing signs.

BSL SignBank can be found on-line at bslsignbank.ucl.ac.uk

For further information, contact:

Notes to editors

  1. Deafness Cognition and Language (DCAL) Research Centre is based at University College London. DCAL is a world-renowned centre of excellence for research on BSL. The centre brings together leading Deaf and hearing researchers in the fields of sign linguistics, psychology, and neuroscience. DCAL is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). http://www.dcal.ucl.ac.uk
  1. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.
  1. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funds research into the big social and economic questions facing us today. We also develop and train the UK's future social scientists. Our research informs public policies and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective. Most importantly, it makes a real difference to all our lives. The ESRC is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter in 1965, and funded mainly by the Government. In 2015 the ESRC celebrates its 50th anniversary. www.esrc.ac.uk
  1. The British Sign Language Corpus Project (2008-2011), funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), aimed to record examples of BSL used by Deaf people and to store this information in a collection ("corpus") that is made publicly accessible on-line, and also to carry out research using this collection into BSL grammar and vocabulary, variation in BSL across the country and how BSL is changing. This data was collected to have a permanent and secure record of BSL, as the language is used today by fluent signers across the UK. We know that the language is changing rapidly due to changes in the Deaf community, so it is important that we have a record for the future. Having a BSL Corpus is also useful for several other reasons: it will directly lead to an improved understanding of BSL structure and use. This information is important for the education of Deaf children, for training sign language interpreters, and for BSL teachers. (http://www.bslcorpusproject.org).