British Sign Language

What is British Sign Language?

British Sign Language (or BSL) is a language used by approximately 70,000 deaf people in this country. The first preferred language of the deaf community, it is accepted by both linguists and the British Government as a language in its own right (such as English or German, for example). Therefore written English may not always be understood by a BSL user, as it is a different language.

BSL is not simply miming or gesturing, or a system of spelling out English. It is a visual language which, like two-thirds of the world’s languages, has no written form. BSL is just as rich in vocabulary, syntax and grammar as any spoken and written language.

Under the Disability Discrimination Act, from October 2004 all service providers will have to make reasonable changes to make sure their services are accessible to everyone, including those people who use BSL.

Remember - not all deaf people use BSL, always ask the person how they prefer to communicate.

How to book an interpreter

As there is a national shortage of suitably qualified interpreters, it is important to book interpreters several weeks in advance whenever possible or to be flexible about dates and times.

When booking an interpreter you will be asked for the following initial information:

  • your contact details
  • date, time and length of appointment
  • address of appointment
  • nature of appointment - for example health or legal

If a suitable interpreter is available then further information will be required, such as:

  • subject matter
  • name of contact person at the assignment
  • where the invoice needs to go to

Other language support services

We also offer the following language support services:

  • lip speakers
  • electronic notetakers
  • palantypists (speech to text reporters)

How to book

To book a BSL interpreter in Bradford, please contact:

British Sign Language Interpreting Service

For organisations there is a charge for this service.