In 1815, an American Protestant minister, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, travelled to Europe to research teaching of the deaf.
He was rebuffed by both the Braidwood schools who refused to teach him their methods.
Some signs are even more local, occurring only in certain towns or cities (such as the Manchester system of number signs).
Likewise, some may go in or out of fashion, or evolve over time, just as terms in oral languages do.
The language makes use of space and involves movement of the hands, body, face, and head.
Many thousands of people who are not deaf also use BSL, as hearing relatives of deaf people, sign language interpreters or as a result of other contact with the British deaf community.The term BANZSL was coined by Trevor Johnston and Adam Schembri.In Australia deaf schools were established by educated deaf people from London, Edinburgh and Dublin.BSL was recognised as a language in its own right by the UK government on 18 March 2003, but it has no legal protection.There is, however, legislation requiring the provision of interpreters such as the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Certain signs used in Scotland, for example, may not be may not be understood immediately, or not understood at all, by those in Southern England, or vice versa.The evolution of the language and its changing level of acceptance means that older users tend to rely on finger spelling while younger ones make use of a wider range of signs.." Like many other sign languages, BSL phonology is defined by elements such as handshape, orientation, location, movement, and non-manual features.There are phonological components to sign language that have no meaning alone but work together to create a meaning of a signed word: hand shape, movement, location, orientation and facial expression Although the United Kingdom and the United States share English as the predominant oral language, British Sign Language is quite distinct from American Sign Language (ASL) - having only 31% signs identical, or 44% cognate.Families may have signs unique to them to accommodate for certain situations or to describe an object that may otherwise require fingerspelling.Many British television channels broadcast programmes with in-vision signing, using BSL, as well as specially made programmes aimed mainly at deaf people such as the BBC's See Hear and Channel 4's VEE-TV.Until the 1940s sign language skills were passed on unofficially between deaf people often living in residential institutions.Signing was actively discouraged in schools by punishment and the emphasis in education was on forcing deaf children to learn to lip read and finger spell.