The British Association of Teachers of the Deaf
Promoting Excellence in Deaf Education

BSL Initiatives

Anne McGuire, Minister for Disabled People

As many of you will be aware, following the recognition of British Sign Language as a language in its own right, the Government dedicated 1.5m in funding to ten projects designed to help increase the number of BSL tutors and raise awareness of the communication needs of Deaf BSL users.

Last December, at the BSL Initiatives Conference, we got an update on the projects' progress and results - and how exciting and impressive these turned out to be.

The success of these projects, briefly outlined below, reflects not just the hard work of the organisations involved but also why it is essential to involve Deaf people throughout.

That probably seems obvious but I believe it is a lesson some organisations are yet to learn. Hopefully, the achievements of these projects, directly involving Deaf people from decisions about funding onwards, will help.

The challenge now is to build on this; to ensure the products and resources are used by the widest possible audience, creating greater awareness and improving lives in both Deaf and hearing communities.

I would urge you all to take time to find out more about the projects and products, and to make use of them on a day-to-day basis.


SignStation is a website providing information about British Sign Language (BSL) and Deaf people in the workplace. The site includes videos, interactive exercises, pictures and graphics, as well as English explanations of many of the features of sign language which will be useful at work. Users are expected to include: employees and colleagues of Deaf people; managers of Deaf workers; human resource and training staff; and those who deal with Deaf customers.

Sign On-Line

This project provides online distance learning tutor training materials to support the work of BSL tutors and their students. Importantly, Sign On-Line is first and foremost a BSL website - with English notes rather than complete BSL-English translations.

Family Sign Language Curriculum

A pilot family sign language curriculum has been developed to help parents sign with their deaf child, using content relevant to family life. The curriculum will help parents of deaf children, their siblings and extended family communicate effectively and learn together. It was developed using recommendations made by both parents and professionals throughout the consultation process.

BSL tuition in the hands of Deaf people

This project has been training BSL tutors to attain more advanced levels of teaching skills. At present there are nearly 100 BSL tutors in training. It provides distance learning over the internet, including video-conferencing, for classes of up to five trainees.

Developing a Regional Deaf Tutor Support Network

This Leeds-based project offered training in second language teaching methods to fifteen existing Deaf BSL tutors, working in the Yorkshire and Humber regions. It has also established a regional network to encourage the development and sharing of teaching materials and to offer ongoing support in the classroom.
Contact Peter Llewellyn-Jones

DVD Tutor Support Pack

The BSL Tutor DVD Support Pack is aimed at new or existing tutors and is designed solely with the Deaf BSL tutor in mind. The DVD uses two Deaf tutors to explain how to work with adult learners, planning and preparing for teaching, assessing learning, recording progress and achievement and looking at adult inspection.


Designed to support the establishment of a nationwide framework to support the recruitment, training and deployment of BSL tutors, this project has been modelling and developing methods of teaching a Stage 2 FENTO qualification to Deaf tutors. Contact

BSL Consortium Awareness Campaign

The Campaign employed a network of BSL Awareness Officers to promote access for BSL users and raise awareness among employers, service providers and the wider community.
The officers, employed by regional and national Deaf organisations, delivered awareness courses designed specifically for their constituencies, and more than 14,000 people have received BSL awareness training.

Sign Me In!

Designed to address some of the issues faced by Deaf people in the Church, this project produced Christian BSL vocabulary resources, available online or on DVD, and provides awareness-raising training for church members through volunteer teams.


Rapport is a project to design, produce and distribute 10,000 copies of an interactive DVD, targeted at 'front line' staff engaged in service delivery, and who regularly encounter BSL users. The DVD engages the viewer in dynamic role-play using scenarios drawn from everyday life, and at the same time educates about the importance of building up 'rapport' and communicating appropriately with BSL users.

March 2006