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October 22, 2002

New web-based BSL glossary

From: British Deaf Association
Oct. 22, 2002

UK’s Deaf students set to benefit from launch of biggest collection of British Sign Language on the Internet

Ever wanted to know how to say ‘surrealism’ in Sign Language? Well now you can - thanks to the launch of the UK’s largest online glossary of terms aimed at assisting the education of deaf art and design students.

The glossary is contained in a new website created by the University of Wolverhampton, which has approximately 1150 specialist signs and is both the largest corpus of British Sign Language (BSL) on the internet and the most extensive reference work for specialist BSL vocabulary in existence.

In 2000 the University was awarded £187,000 from the DfES Innovations Fund to complete a number of projects collectively entitled ‘Extending
education and career opportunities for the Deaf community with particular
reference to developing generic and subject specific language skills’.

One of these projects aimed to create an online glossary in BSL/English for art and design education. The web site uses high quality videos, optimised for the web and it is fast, easy to use and professional in appearance.

Direct Learn Services’ Judith Mole, who was the project manager for the glossary development, said: “After its national launch in October, the art and design glossary will be available, via the internet, to all Higher Education Institutions, further education colleges, schools and private individuals, and will be used as a resource for deaf students, sign language interpreters, communication support workers, note-takers for deaf people and advanced BSL students.

“Students and interpreting staff were having problems getting easy access to
sign language resources and reference materials suitable for higher education study. This project aimed to redress this problem by creating the online glossary.”

It was devised by a deaf researcher, Cathy Woolley, a Fine Art as Social Practice graduate of the University of Wolverhampton and a hearing researcher, Jackie Cooley, a technician in the Glass department of the School of Art and Design, as well as a number of academic staff and freelance consultants.

Judith added: “The signs featured in the glossary are collected from the Deaf community, not created artificially by researchers.”

The University has an established track record in supporting deaf students. Within the University there is considerable expertise in working with deaf people and teaching English as a second language to deaf people.

It also has many collaborative links with other higher education institutions, including creating and maintaining networks throughout the sector, for example, the Consortium of Higher Education Support Services.

The web site can be found at

© 2002 BDA