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A public lecture celebrating British Sign Language and Deaf Culture.

2013 marks the 10th anniversary of the formal recognition of British Sign Language (BSL) as a language in its own right. Today, it is estimated that over 125,000 people across the UK use BSL as their primary language, while many more use it as their secondary form of communication. BSL users represent a significant cultural and linguistic group. These talks will explore just some of the history, language and cultures of this community.

The speakers are:

Professor Bencie Woll FBA is the Director of the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre at UCL. She is the co-author of The Linguistics of BSL: an Introduction with Rachel Sutton-Spence, which was the winner of the 1999 Deaf Nation Award and 2000 British Association of Applied Linguistics Book Prize. Professor Woll will be speaking on the history and development of BSL.

Dr Paddy Ladd is a scholar and activist of Deaf Culture, and is the MSc Coordinator at the Centre for Deaf Studies, University of Bristol. Dr Ladd has been added to the Roll of Honour of the British Deaf Association for “outstanding contributions” in Deaf Education in 2007. Dr Ladd will be talking about Deaf Culture.

The event will begin with a drinks reception at 6pm.

The event will feature BSL interpretation and speech-to-text transcription. If you have other access requirements please let us know.

Attending and Registration

The lecture will take place at the Library Events Room at the Royal Society. Please arrive at the reception and you will be directed to the room.

* Digiti lingua

The earliest known images of the modern British two-handed alphabet appeared in 1698 with Digiti Lingua, a pamphlet by an anonymous author who was himself unable to speak.

Presentation slides

Bencie Woll's presentation (PDF)

Dr Paddy Ladd's presentation (PDF)