Learn to sign for inclusivity and employability

Posted in: employability, foreign languages

Did you know that one in five (approximately 12 million) adults in the UK are D/deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus? For many, British Sign Language (BSL) is vital for communication. Head of Languages Claire Charlemagne introduces an exciting new BSL course for University of Bath students and staff, starting in Semester 2.

Why learn British Sign Language?

  1. Learning to sign is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to inclusivity and to make a positive difference in our community. It will really help you to break down barriers with those whose first language is BSL.
  2. Like learning any language, studying BSL will enhance your employability, giving you a competitive edge and valued communication skills. Having a recognised qualification in BSL demonstrates competence for a whole range of careers. What’s more, BSL interpreters are in extremely high demand, so learning BSL could even open up a whole new career in interpreting for you.
  3. Learning to sign is also fun – BSL is a unique and very imaginative, expressive language and facial expressions and body language are an important part of it. Learning with others is a great way to make friends and share a new, enriching experience together.

Learn BSL at Bath

Signs4Life logo
For the first time, the Skills Centre will offer a BSL course in Semester 2 2023/24, in partnership with Signs4Life.

We’ve introduced the course in response to student demand and the popularity of BSL at our regular Language Cafés on campus.

The 10-week accredited BSL programme will take place every Wednesday in Semester 2 from 4-7pm. Taught by a Deaf tutor from Signs4Life, the interactive, in-person classes will teach you the basics of BSL and lead to the BSL Level 1 Award.

By the end of the course, you’ll be able to:

  • take part in simple, everyday conversations
  • give and follow basic instructions and
  • make straightforward, familiar statements and descriptions in BSL

Once you’ve completed the course, you’ll enter for the BSL Level 1 Award which is assessed by the teacher-examiner.

The cost of the course is £295 which includes all teaching, examination fee, and access to regular online refresher sessions after the course has ended.

We don't want finance to be a barrier for any student participating in this course. If you're in receipt of a Bath bursary, or come from a household with an annual household income of less than £42,000, please complete this form to apply for a funded place.

Did you know…?

Here are some more interesting facts about BSL:

  • According to the British Deaf Association, there are 151,000 users of BSL in the UK, and 87,000 of these are Deaf.
  • The British Sign Language Bill was passed in 2022, recognising BSL as an official language of England, Scotland and Wales.
  • Sign language users who were born deaf will often identify with an uppercase D (Deaf) to signify that BSL is their first language. Those who lost their hearing later in life, after learning a spoken language, often use lowercase d (deaf). Using ‘D/deaf’ is an inclusive way to acknowledge everyone.
  • BSL is Britain’s fourth most used language, after English, Welsh and Polish.
  • BSL has five dialects: London, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and the Midlands. Just like spoken languages, there are colloquialisms in BSL too.
  • BSL has its roots in French Sign Language.
  • BSL has its own structures and grammar and is very different to English, which is a second or even a third language for most D/deaf people in the UK.

Enrolment for the Semester 2 BSL course is now open and closes on 2 February 2024.

We hope learning to sign is a rewarding and beneficial experience for you!

Posted in: employability, foreign languages


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