British Sign Language

What is British Sign Language?

British Sign Language (or BSL) is a language used by approximately 70,000 deaf people in this country. The first preferred language of the deaf community, it is accepted by both linguists and the British Government as a language in its own right (such as English or German, for example). Therefore written English may not always be understood by a BSL user, as it is a different language.

BSL is not simply miming or gesturing, or a system of spelling out English. It is a visual language which, like two-thirds of the world’s languages, has no written form. BSL is just as rich in vocabulary, syntax and grammar as any spoken and written language.

Under the Disability Discrimination Act, from October 2004 all service providers will have to make reasonable changes to make sure their services are accessible to everyone, including those people who use BSL.

Remember - not all deaf people use BSL, always ask the person how they prefer to communicate.

How to book an interpreter or communicator

As there is a national shortage of suitably qualified interpreters, it is important to book interpreters several weeks in advance whenever possible or to be flexible about dates and times.
When booking an interpreter you should provide the following initial information:

  • Type of assignment (job interview, meeting, conference etc.)
  • Date, time and length of appointment.

If a suitable interpreter or communicator is available then further information can be provided, such as:

  • Subject matter
  • Requirements
  • Fees
  • Address of assignment
  • Telephone/fax contact details
  • Name of contact person at assignment
  • Name and address to whom invoice should be sent.

To book a BSL interpreter or communicator in Bradford, please contact:

British Sign Language Translation Service

  • Telephone: 01274 435019 - both voice and text
  • Fax: 01274 435275
  • SMS: 07810 637819

For organisations there is a charge for this service.

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