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A photo of a man doing the BSL signs for computer science with his hands. The text at the bottom reads 'computer science' and the Skills Development Scotland and University of Edinburgh logos are in the top.

News: 500 BSL signs added to create a more inclusive tech sector

Posted 30 March 2022, by Nina Joynson

More than 500 British Sign Language signs have been created for terms related to digital technology to make the sector more inclusive for Deaf young people.

The new British Sign Language (BSL) signs have been created for words used in the industry, covering computer science, cyber security, data science and software development.

The development is the result of a partnership between Skills Development Scotland, Data Education in Schools, the DDI Skills Gateway and the Scottish Sensory Centre which saw deaf tech experts spend eight months with sign linguists developing and testing the new signs.

Before the glossary was launched, Deaf people often had to spell out individual letters for specialised terms. These new signs will help the community to access qualifications and careers, making it easier and more efficient to communicate about digital skills and jobs.

Seventeen-year-old pupil Billy-Jack Gerrard is deaf and wants to pursue AI and computer science at university. He said:

“These signs will make a huge difference in terms of both studying for the right skills for a job in tech, and then also for actually working in the sector itself."

"Once embedded into the fabric of BSL, the consistent use of the terms will make life so much easier, and in turn far more inclusive, for deaf people like me wanting to pursue a digital career.”

One of the team members responsible for the new signs was Ben Fletcher, Principal Engineer with the Financial Times. He said:

“Throughout my whole life I have studied and worked in computing, but tech and BSL have often been a difficult combination.  There’s a huge list of computing terms, very few of which have dedicated and widely recognised signs, and others I just had to make up.  It was very frustrating.

“We now have a standard glossary that will really help Deaf people in schools, colleges, universities and workplaces across the UK.”

While there are already more than 500 signs in the glossary, the list will grow. Kate Farrell, Data Education in Schools, said:

“Like the technology itself, which is constantly changing, the accompanying language also has to be updated. So by its very nature, this BSL glossary will have to do the same. We therefore welcome the continued input from technologists, deaf or otherwise, to ensure that we stay up to date with the terminology around skills and jobs in tech.”

Click here to find the full list of signs on the SSC website