An increasing number of businesses are looking into how to learn sign language. Making your products or services more accessible to people who are Deaf or have hearing loss will really help you stand out from the competition.
British Sign Language (BSL) is often used instead of spoken language by the Deaf community. It’s also sometimes relied on by people with hearing loss who may use a mixture of spoken English and BSL. There are 12 million people in the UK with some form of hearing loss. Can your business afford to ignore this group of potential customers?
How to learn sign language
The best way to learn sign language is to attend a course run by a trainer who is fluent in BSL. It gives the opportunity to see the signs face-to-face and practice signing with different people. RNID (formerly Action on Hearing Loss) offers two different BSL courses for businesses, delivered at your workplace*:
- Start to Sign – Half-day or full-day course for up to 12 people which covers basic BSL signs.
- BSL at Work – 18 hours delivered in three full-day sessions or six half-day sessions for up to 10 people. This course can be tailored to include BSL signs relevant to your business.
*Our BSL courses are currently on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic but we hope to resume them again soon.
Other BSL resources when learning to sign
While nothing beats face-to-face training, these BSL resources are useful if your staff want to practise the signs they’ve learnt:
- Fingerspelling alphabet – Fingerspelling is an easy way to communicate with Deaf people without memorising all the word phrases. Our free Employers’ toolkit includes a fingerspelling alphabet poster.
- Online videos – There are plenty of BSL resources online. YouTube and BSL Zone are two of the most popular websites for videos with sign language.
- Sign language groups – A good way to practice is to get together with other BSL users. See Meetup.com to find a sign language group.
- BSL app – ‘Sign BSL’ is a BSL dictionary app. If your staff don’t know how to sign a word, they can quickly look it up.