Subscribe to our free fortnightly newsletter and stay ahead with the latest news in edtech
Sign language is the first language of many deaf children

More want to learn sign language than French and German

Survey finds 12.7 million people in the UK want to learn British Sign Language

Posted by Stephanie Broad | October 28, 2015 | Health & wellbeing

The National Deaf Children’s Society reveals 12.7 million people in the UK would like to learn sign language – with more Brits wanting to be able to communicate in sign language than in French and German.

Two thirds of adults think sign language is more impressive than speaking a foreign language.

British Sign language is a language in its own right, using handshapes, facial expressions, gestures and body language to convey meaning. It is the first language of some deaf people and is used in addition to spoken English by others. 

The survey found that:

  • A quarter (24.50%) of people in Britain say they want to learn sign language 
  • The top three languages respondents would like to learn are Spanish (28.80%), British Sign Language (24.50%) and French (23.20%)
  • Sixty-one percent of people feel embarrassed they can’t communicate well with deaf people and wish they could do better
  • Two thirds (66.80%) of people think that sign language is more impressive than speaking a foreign language 
  • Proving that British etiquette is alive and well, “thank you” is the phrase people would most like to learn in sign language, closely followed by “can I help” and “sorry”

The survey results will be welcomed by deaf children and young people who use sign language, either as their first language or as a support to spoken English. A lack of deaf awareness can be a problem for all deaf children, whether they use sign language or not, often leading to isolation and loneliness at school. Nearly 80% of deaf children in England attend mainstream schools where they may be the only deaf child enrolled - without good deaf awareness they can miss out on important social development like conversations with classmates and playground games.  

To kick-start the nation’s introduction to sign language and deaf awareness, the National Deaf Children’s Society has launched a ‘Fingerspellathon’ challenge, which calls on people to learn to sign the alphabet and get sponsored to fingerspell certain key words. 

Commenting on the findings, National Deaf Children’s Society Chief Executive, Susan Daniels, said: “It is so important that deaf children and young people do not miss out on conversations, activities and opportunities to make new friends. Raising deaf awareness is key to this and the Fingerspellathon is an excellent way of showing support, learning a new skill and raising vital funds to support deaf children and their families.”

www.ndcs.org.uk

Subscribe to our free fortnightly newsletter and stay ahead with the latest news in independent education

Related stories

Kelvinside Academy: For the love of nature

Combined Studies at Abbey College: Alternative to A-levels

Akeley Wood Junior School: Creating a child-centric culture

King's Ely: Putting languages at the core

A world of wonderful words at Bickley Park School

Confidence for life, thanks to Durham School

The state of the arts: moving from STEM to STEAM

Common courtesy isn't a rarity at Cumnor House

What can independent schools do to stay strong in 2018?

How is technology transforming education?

Market place - view all

Accent Catering Services

Accent Catering is one of the most notable and distinctive operator...

Rhino

Rhino is one of the leading rugby brands in the world and has beco...

Schools Broadband

Schools Broadband is one of the UK's largest specialist providers o...

Middleton

Middleton Food Products

The complete range of catering, food...

Interface

Interface is a global leader in the design and manufacture of susta...

NEC

NEC Corporation is one of the world's leading providers of Internet...