Interesting little historical facts

  • Sign language has a very long and rich history – the very first record of sign language dates back to 5BC.
  • Thomas Braidwood brought sign language into the educational system in UK in the 18th century and lasted for a good fifty years till the 1889 Royal Commission of the Blind and Deaf & Dumb was issued. This commission saw the end of sign language in schools!
  • The 1944 Education Act ensured that sign language stayed away from the classrooms in Britain – any schools of the Deaf who used the ‘oral’ system were given a rise!
  • The nineties saw rules being relaxed- some schools allowed sign language to be used in classrooms.
  • The nineties also saw our profile being raised by Her Royal Highness, Diana, the Princess of Wales, in her role as the Royal Patron of the British Deaf Association, who used some BSL at the celebrations of the BDA 100th anniversary in 1990.
  • BSL was recognised as a language in its own right on 18th March 2003 by the British Government.
  • In 2009, UK signed the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which viewed sign language on par with spoken languages.
  • Did you know that many hearing people also use BSL, making it more common than Welsh and Gaelic!

Let’s hope that there are more positive milestones for BSL in the future!