The British Sign Language reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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British Sign Language

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British sign language (BSL) is the sign language used in Britain. BSL is the first or preferred language of nearly 70,000 deaf or hearing-impaired people in the United Kingdom. It is a language of space and movement using the hands, body, face and head. Many thousands of hearing people also use BSL: more people use BSL than speak Gaelic.

Although the United States and Britain share a spoken language, British Sign Language is distinct from American Sign Language. One example of their differences is that ASL uses a single-handed alphabet while BSL uses two hands for its fingerspelling system. The Makaton system was developed by borrowing signs from British Sign Language.

The systems for sign language used in Australia and New Zealand, Auslan and New Zealand Sign Language, were based largely on BSL.

There have been campaigns to have BSL recognised on a similar level to Welsh and Gaelic. The BBC broadcasts many programmes with in-vision signing, using BSL. Also it makes the programme See Hear, which is aimed mainly at Deaf people.

See also: UK topics