Do All Deaf People Sign?

Hello everyone,

I hope that you managed to survive Storm Ciara! I gather that Storm Dennis is on its way.

I’ve been delivering Deaf Awareness training in London again this morning. As I look out of the window now, it’s lovely and bright (although it was rather chilly when I boarded the train from Woking).

A question I’m often asked when I meet new people is whether all Deaf people use BSL. If you’re Deaf, you probably get asked the same question.

This is my reply:

I was born Deaf and grew up signing, as do many Deaf people in families with Deaf relatives.

We know around 95% of deaf babies are born to hearing parents, some of these parents may choose to learn British Sign Language (BSL) with their children, others may prefer for them to learn orally (by lip-reading.)

Most deaf people have some residual hearing and with the help of hearing aids or cochlear implants, some can communicate using lip-reading and the hearing they have.

Some deaf children learn British Sign Language (BSL) later, either at school or as adults; others do not.

It will depend very much on the type of school the deaf child attends as to how much exposure to signing they have.

People who have lost their hearing later in life, maybe suddenly e.g. through meningitis, or gradually, will vary in their signing ability too. Some will embrace BSL, others choose not to.

The important thing when meeting a deaf person is to ask how they would like to communicate.

If you have learnt some sign language you will be well equipped if they sign in reply!

What other questions are you asked if you are Deaf or come from a Deaf family?

Have a wondrful rest of the week and let’s hope Storm Dennis is not too bad.

Best wishes