As little as one word
can be enough to ask
or answer a question
Learn to FingerSpell Week
22-28 November 2015

Learn to FingerSpell Week

This year's 'Learn to FingerSpell Week' (launched by will be held from 22-28 November, 2015.   It aims, in the short term, to encourage as many of us as possible to learn the British Sign Language alphabet.  

The original date of 22 November was chosen because it's the birthday of a young man called Izaak, who is unable to speak and who was the initial inspiration for the day.

We all know British Sign Language (BSL) is used in the deaf community but very few hearing people know any sign language at all, resulting in a divide in communication between hearing and non-hearing people.

There are also hearing people and children, like Izaak, who are unable to speak and for whom signing is an important (or only) means of communication - but they often become very socially isolated and lonely because the majority of the UK population are unable to understand signing.

The ability to speak, hear and be understood is something that most of us take for granted, but for those without that ability everyday activities can be a real challenge. All aspects of everyday life require some form of communication - shopping, travelling on public transport, asking for directions or help or even simply introducing yourself to someone difficult to do if you can't make yourself understood.

British Sign Language is a complex subject to learn in its entirety - but imagine how much it could enhance communication between us all if we could simply just read the BSL alphabet and use it to finger-spell words ourselves?

As little as one word can often be enough to ask, or answer, a question.

It's really not difficult to do and the benefits gained by us all massively outweigh the small amount of time and effort that it takes to learn. Even if you only have occasion to use what you've learnt once in your lifetime, that one time could make so much difference to someone who would otherwise have been unable to make themselves 'heard'. Multiply that 'one occasion' by thousands, or even millions, of UK citizens and the potential could actually be life-changing for so many speech-impaired and non-hearing people.

By learning the BSL alphabet ourselves and then teaching it to family, friends, work colleagues, pupils etc. we can help to improve the everyday lives of others whilst gaining a useful new skill!

November › Learn to FingerSpell Week