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

Developing BSL teaching and learning resources

Cath Smith,

The Let's Sign Series continues to develop with a range of books, dictionaries, posters, flashcards and graphics pack. Most of this development work has grown in response to requests for specific items to meet the needs of teachers, families and BSL tutors and this is the way we would like to continue.

The Let's Sign & Write BSL graphics pack is currently being updated to add 560 new signs to the existing 800 in the collection. Contact Widgit for further details.

The signs continue to be in line and colour. All of the signs will be available in the 'adult' style with a separate set in children's characters for child appropriate signs.

Most of the additional signs in the 2006 update are the result of work for the Let's Sign Dictionary. The BSL tutors who worked on this publication wanted new material that would reflect contemporary terms and provide a reference for BSL Level 1 courses and a core vocabulary to all learners. BSL is a living language that changes and evolves in the same way as other languages - resources need to reflect and keep pace with this. The dictionary is now part of the pack as it provides a full reference of the signs with descriptions and cross-references and it will be enlarged and updated as the graphics pack develops.

Work with pre-school and other services has increased the early years graphics in the present up-date, but many more are needed. We wish to develop these and to create more sign graphics generally - for the pack and other materials. If you are using signs that you need graphics for, we invite your direct involvement to do this and will try to respond to requests, depending on demand. Signs need to have consensus of use by BSL users and be sent with a full description of how each sign is formed (contact details below). A number of schools have requested curriculum specific vocabulary but our priority for this year will be everyday vocabulary development.

We hope that this can then be further used in some other exciting developments. Widgit Software are developing more downloadable resources through their website - These will include free and low-cost resources that are either available as pdf downloads that do not require the user to have symbol software, and also packs for users of Communicate in Print 2 and Writing with Symbols.

Some examples using the BSL graphics are already available on Widgit's website and also on the BATOD website, and direct involvement is again requested for these materials. This can either be in the form of submitting items that you have made yourself and are willing to share with others, using the sign graphics and/or the symbol software, or to request items that you would find useful and would like to see made available. Items can be made to suit individual needs and to cater for sign variations and provide a valuable alternative for teachers with limited time to prepare their own materials.

We also hope to be involved in similar developments with Direct Learn who have set up an online shop offering electronic publications on deafness and support, including bilingual e-books in BSL/English, note-taking course materials, as well as the proceedings of the Supporting Deaf People online conferences. See

Please contact DEAFSIGN and email Cath or telephone 01642 580505 if you wish to contribute to these developments.

Eds Note
Currently Cath is experimenting with e-books and she and has a demonstration interactive alphabet book available. Sample sheets are on this BATOD website for comment.

March 2006