This informal CPD article 5 Reasons Everyone Should Learn British Sign Language was provided by Centre of Excellence, a worldwide online training provider.
Contrary to popular belief, speech is not a language. Instead, it is a medium by which many of us communicate. Where this isn’t possible, visual and spatial languages become of vital importance for expression. The first documented use of sign language in Britain was in 1570. Hundreds of years later, in 1972, and after much development, the government recognised BSL as a language in its own right.
Perhaps because of the struggle to gain widespread acceptance, there are some misconceptions that still prevail. Namely, that sign language is only for people with a hearing impairment or speech difficulties. This is not wholly true; sign language serves those who can hear and speak well, too.
Great reasons why everyone should learn British Sign Language
Now that’s cleared up, here are some of those reasons you might want to consider learning sign language:
1. Improve Your Communication Skills
It is no secret that bilingualism - whether spoken or signed - is of huge benefit to our cognition. Learning more than one language helps to enhance our academic potential through improved abstract thinking, focus, problem-solving skills, and interpersonal intelligence (via enriched listening skills).
2. Engage All Your Senses
You have likely been reliant on speech to communicate, so much so that it’s second nature. Learning a language - particularly sign language - helps challenge your capabilities and push you outside of your comfort zone by engaging many more senses, such as touch and sight. This visual and spatial language will help develop your peripheral vision and spatial awareness.
3. It’s a Matter of Equality
Aside from the cognitive benefits, sign language also allows for greater cultural integration. Understanding deaf communities and their rich culture is a benefit to learning sign language. This is especially important for business owners and those in positions of power. In a world where inclusivity, diversity and embracing our differences is widely observed to be the right approach, be the change you wish to see.
4. Stand Out From the Crowd
Equally, for those seeking new challenges or a career change, learning sign language can open many doors and help you stand out from the crowd. Sign language is especially useful for frontline workers, those working in social care, hospitality, or any public-facing role. Job seekers can point to a good grasp of sign language as being demonstrative of their cognitive abilities, critical thinking, communication skills, and continued development.
5. Connect With 70 Million More People
According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are 70 million people in the world whose first language or mother tongue is sign language. This doesn’t include all those who speak other primary languages. Learning sign language opens you up to a huge global community of people.
As with learning any type of language, it takes practice and persistence to master communication skills through sign. However, you can learn a few basic sign language words relatively easily. So, with plenty of new friends to practice with, the learning journey should be as stimulating and rewarding as it is fun!
We hope this article was helpful. For more information from Centre of Excellence, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.