Did you know that this week is Sign Language Week? This annual observance is promoted by the British Deaf Association to celebrate British Sign language and the British Deaf Community.
To celebrate, here are ten interesting facts about British Sign Language (BSL) and BSL interpreters.
In the UK, there are around 150,000 BSL users.
70,000-87,000 of these people are Deaf and use BSL as their first language. For children who are born deaf, English is often a second or third language.
The first historical mention of BSL is a record of a wedding ceremony conducted partially in sign language in Leicester, 1576.
The groom, Thomas Tillsye, was deaf, and so, according to the Parish Book,
“the sayde Thomas, for the expression of his minde instead of words, of his own accorde used these signs…
First he embraced her with his armes, and took her by the hande, putt a ring upon her finger and layde his hande upon her harte, and held his hands towards heaven; and to show his continuance to dwell with her to his lyves ende he did it by closing of his eyes with his hands and digging out of the earthe with his foote, and pulling as though he would ring a bell with divers other signs approved.”