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How Learning British Sign Language Can Change Your Life In 2020

Do you feel that what you need right now at this point in your life is a new challenge?

After all, it is a new year and a new decade. It’s 2020. Maybe you don’t know what you want from life. Or perhaps you feel like you are a cross-road, with no clear cut direction. Maybe you are just waiting for a sign, a sign that gives you direction and purpose.

Perhaps you’re a student — not just literally, but a student at life — and want to further your learning. Learn a new, unique skill that will set you apart from your friends and peers. Maybe you just want something to exercise your brain.

Or perhaps you want to give back to your community and do something that will truly help people. Maybe even put a smile on some of their faces.

If any of these scenarios seems familiar, then you’re not alone. It’s only natural to feel like this sometimes.

If indeed you relate to the above mentioned scenarios, then becoming more familiar with British Sign Language could be the path for you. An invaluable skill, beyond communicating with friends and family who may be deaf or have hearing impairments, learning British Sign Language can also be an interesting job opportunity, where you may help with community work or teach at special schools for the deaf.

What is British Sign Language

British Sign Language, as with any sign language anywhere in the world, is essentially a method of communication that utilizes – instead of auditory or aural means – visual means of communication. This could range from everything using facial expressions, body language, or gestures.

From the non-aural nature of British Sign Language, you can understand that this is mainly used by communities or people in the United Kingdom who are either completely deaf (those who cannot hear) or have some form of hearing impairments.

You might also think that British Sign Language has similarities with English. However, you would be wrong. There is very little in common between the two. British Sign Language is a unique language, with its own unique grammar and structures for constructing sentences.

A Brief History of British Sign Language 

The presence of some form of sign language in Britain dates back to the 16th century but just as any spoken language goes through a myriad of changes with the passage of time, British Sign Language too has evolved.

 Through a series of incorporating new inventions, applying some necessary modifications, and employing other importations into the language, British Sign Language in its current form in 2020 is quite a bit different from what it used to be during its origins. 

It was in 1760 when Thomas Brainwood, an instructor from Edinburgh, started the “Braidwood’s Academy for the Deaf and Dumb.” This is now widely recognised as the first school for the deaf in Britain, though his students were only boys. Not only that, but these boys were only of a certain class in society. It was his use of a form of sign language, which was known as the combined system, that eventually was the first iteration of what was to become British Sign Language.

While British Sign Language has had its ups and downs throughout history, over the past 50 years, recognition and usage of British Sign Language has certainly increased as people have become more accepting of its importance. This was understood when in 2003, after much campaigning from British Sign Language users, the United Kingdom government formally recognised British Sign Language as an official minority language.

A Few Statistics About British Sign Language

According to statistics provided by the British Deaf Association in 2016, there are over 150,000 people in the United Kingdom who use British Sign Language. However, this number may be understated.

According to data from the organisation Action on Hearing Loss there are an estimated 900,000 people in the UK have severe or profound hearing loss.

Not only that, but the organisation also estimates that by 2035, nearly one in five across the UK will have some form of hearing impairment.

Imagine that! In 15 years, about 20% of the population could be suffering from some form of hearing impairment.

In total, more than 40% of people over 50 years old have hearing loss in the UK. This rises to an incredible 71% of people over the age of 70. That is a lot of people.

Learning British Sign Language

You might be wondering then, well, who should learn British Sign Language?

The correct answer? Probably everyone in the United Kingdom. Learning British Sign Language is vital for anyone in the United Kingdom who may want to communicate with people who are deaf or may have some hearing impairments. This could be a friend, a family member, or a person at work.

The above statistics show clearly why learning British Sign Language will become more and more important. It is clear that if we wish to communicate with the maximum number of people in our community, then being an expert at British Sign Language is going to be vital.

However, learning British Sign Language is not just being able to communicate better with certain people. No, there are so many benefits to learning British Sign Language. If you put your mind to learn British Sign Language, there are so many avenues it unlocks that it could potentially be life changing.

There has been sufficient research done showing the benefits of learning a new language. Firstly, it is just a fun thing to do, and British Sign Language, being a visual language, offers added excitement and a fresh new perspective.

Then, language learning is a sure way to exercise your brain cells. This in turn, helps you have better memory, and adding a new skill will also increase your confidence.

British Sign Language could be your calling

It is disheartening that despite the increasing number of people who use and require British Sign Language, there are often not enough practitioners of the language. This is particularly the case in health care.

Therefore, the demand for British Sign Language experts has never been higher than what it is now in 2020 and you could benefit tremendously. Therefore, there are possibilities for British Sign Language jobs for you.

You could be an interpreter, helping interpret the words of a patient. Or you could be a translator and helping a colleague understand what it is a client or another colleague who happens to be deaf is talking about.

You could also be a teacher at a school, or are just looking for employment at a school for the deaf and those with hearing impairment. In all those scenarios, learning British Sign Language is sure to be absolutely critical.

An Online Course for British Sign Language

You may now be wondering: “How to learn British Sign Language” or if there is indeed a British Sign Language online course. With an online course for British Sign Language, you can find a more relaxed environment for learning, while the right course will make you go through a variety of activities, including using the entire group of students as a whole or  smaller groups or even working in pairs.

To learn British Sign Language is to open opportunities you didn’t even know existed. Whether you want to look for new opportunities, increase your own communication skills, or are simply enthusiastic about learning a new exciting language, doing an online course on British Sign Language will surely help change your life for the better.

Ultimately, the right course for British Sign Language that you choose will teach you to communicate in British Sign Language about everyday topics involving work and social contexts.

February 7, 2020

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