About sign language

British Sign Language (BSL) is the UK’s fourth official language and is used by 70,000 deaf people in the UK every day, along with hundreds of thousands of family members, friends, professionals working with the deaf community and students of sign language.

Basic BSL is easy to learn, and you only need to know a few key signs to be able to share a story with a deaf child. And if you don’t know the sign for a word, try drawing a picture, writing it down, fingerspellling it or acting it out.

Books on the Signed Stories app are also available to buy in American Sign Language (ASL). ASL is a completely different language to BSL. For example, fingerspelling in BSL uses two hands while ASL only uses one.

There are an estimated 500,000 American Sign Language users in the United States and Canada - why not see if you can learn some ASL signs.

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Did you know...

In Deaf culture, people are often given sign names. Sign names sometimes reflect physical characteristics like a hairstyle or a favourite colour, a job or hobby.

There were sign language choirs in the opening and closing ceremonies of The Olympic Games London 2012 - in the opening ceremony by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, the Kaos Signing Choir performed God Save the Queen, and in the closing ceremony The Liverpool Signing Choir performed John Lennon’s Imagine.

Singer Lady Gaga was inspired to learn American Sign Language after watching YouTube videos of deaf fans performing her songs.

David and Victoria Beckham and their children are learning sign language because they have a deaf friend.  Victoria said: “So of course the first thing Cruz, who is five, wanted to learn was how to say, 'I've got wind!”.

Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin has been deaf since she was 18-months-old.

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