UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Offensive BSL signs in the UK Deaf Community

12 January 2023

Indie Beedie and Sannah Gulamani are pleased to announce that we have been successful in achieving the UCL Beacon Bursary 2022 funding for public engagement activities.

Sannah Gulamani on the left and Indie Beedie on the right.

Our project will run in 2023 and will address the use of offensive signs. Offensive signs are signs that are perpetuate racist, ableist and other oppressive ideologies in BSL such as the concept of what the ‘rightful’ signs should be in the name of ‘tradition’. We aim to bring to the forefront intersectional experiences and provide an opportunity for people to discuss their views and feeling on offensive signs, language preservation, variation and attitudes.

We will host confidential Deaf-led discussions about the use of offensive signs and run two online workshops. One workshop will be for Deaf Black, Asian and other minority ethnic BSL signers and the other will be for Deaf signers who are not from visibly ethnic minorities. Workshops will be facilitated by Deaf researchers and in BSL. We will collaborate with external organisations such as DEWA (Deaf Ethnic Women’s Association), Remark! and Black Deaf UK.

Our aim is that this project will shape broader conversations about sociolinguistics of BSL and how this is taught, learned and researched. It will help us to improve how we engage with communities who are the focus of our research and build on our work on language attitudes in BSL.

We hope that this will support further knowledge and confidence within the Deaf Community and contribute to the welcoming of various identities and cultures and better representation of individuals in the community, their views and thoughts which are not always heard.

A summary from the workshops will be conducted and to help these conversations be navigated for wider use.

All enquiries via:
Indie Beedie
Executive Officer
Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre,
University College London

Funding from UCL Beacon Bursaries

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