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One-handed Signing in a Two-handed World

In the UK there are 11 million people that are deaf or hard of hearing, but only 151,000 BSL (British Sign Language) users. Signing baby and toddler classes are a great way to change this, but how can children with limb differences get involved?

Like many things in life, British Sign Language and other signing variants, are designed for a two-handed world, but simple adjustments can make signing with your little arm possible. Do not understate your ability to adjust!

Beccy, a Children's 'Sing and Sign' Instructor assures that “At Sing and Sign, we don’t teach sign language as such, we teach communication. Communicating through sign with your pre-verbal little one is an amazing window into their worlds. It doesn’t actually matter what signs or gestures you use and this makes signing possible for everyone!”.

Although there is no dedicated one-handed sign-language, ASL (American Sign Language) fingerspelling, unlike the British version, is one-handed and can be used to spell words. However, lots of sign-language users naturally adjust to using one-hand, for example when driving with one hand on the wheel or holding a cup of coffee! As many words have the second hand just mirroring or opposing the action of the primary hand, one-handed versions of those are easy to guess in context, meaning that people with upper limb-differences can learn and use sign language too.

It's also important to recognise that you don't always need to know the official sign for something; it's okay to make it up, that's part of the fun! If signs need to be changed slightly to accommodate differences, then that’s no problem. Consistency is the key!

Below is a useful YouTube channel by Elisabeth Ward, who shares her journey learning BSL with an upper limb difference...

Would you like to learn Sign-Language? Or maybe you already do!

Sources: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/understanding-disabilities-and-impairments-user-profiles/saleem-profoundly-deaf-user#:~:text=11%20million%20people%20in%20the,BSL%20users%20in%20the%20UK.


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