Spring has arrived! We know it’s here when the daffodils start “popping up” here and there, waving their sun-kissed colours at us. There’s an overall sense of looming renovation, fresh starts and new opportunities. Just what we need at these uncertain times. And at Mauda we don’t want to miss a beat! We have made plans to also “pop up” this season. More precisely – we have a Pop Up Shop opening in John Lewis Edinburgh in late April. So, read on if you want to find out more!Continue reading Popping Up… Soon
As the end of February approached, we cheered at the announcement of covid-related restrictions coming to an end in the UK. Well, almost all covid restrictions. However, the hopes of resuming a “normal life” soon faded away with the devastating news of the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces on Feb 24th. These are times of uncertainty and our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine and all the Russians who despite not supporting these actions or the current regime, find themselves embroiled in the impacts of the current crisis.
Just the day before this event, we launched our brand-new flashcards, that combine the English alphabet in its written and signed forms. It’s estimated that c120,000 adults and 20,000 children in the UK use British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate. BSL is not recognised as an official language in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but progress was made in January with the British Sign Language Bill passing its first hurdle in the House of Commons. Scotland recognised BSL as an official language in 2015. In this blog, we want to share a few the details behind the making of the flashcards and some facts about BSL.
Why learning BSL?
Well, the question really should be “why not learning BSL”? If we only teach BSL to the ones who can’t or struggle to communicate orally, then we’re restricting that group to only communicate among themselves and excluding them from communicating with the groups that don’t sign. We all very much use the same services across the country, so in reality we ALL benefit from learning at least the basics of BSL.
Children absorb everything. They excel at learning new languages if they start early. So, the sooner we expose them to different ways to communicate in English, the sooner we get BSL into the mainstream. Mauda is all about providing options. This is our little contribution to expanding our concept into education. It’s also a very engaging and inclusive way to learn. And to top it all up, you’re not alone in the process. Here’s the supporting video to help you make the most of Mauda’s flashcards.
The first time BSL was documented
The first historical mention of BSL dates back to 1576. It’s a record of a wedding ceremony conducted partially in sign language in Leicester. The Parish Book documents that the groom – Thomas Tillsye – was deaf, and therefore used these signs instead of words:
“First he embraced her with his armes, and took her by the hande, putt a ring upon her finger and layde his hande upon her harte, and held his hands towards heaven; and to show his continuance to dwell with her to his lyves ende he did it by closing of his eyes with his hands and digging out of the earthe with his foote, and pulling as though he would ring a bell with divers other signs approved.”
British Sign Language differs from American Sign Language
Although English is spoken in both the UK and the USA the sign languages across these two countries differ. Overall American Sign Language (ASL) and BSL only have c30% of signs in common. In fact, ASL is closer to French Sign Language than BSL!
Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet was an American Protestant minister and educator who travelled to Europea to learn how deaf people were taught in the Old Continent. British institutions weren’t as forthcoming as the French Royal Institution of the Deaf, which resulted in ASL being developed in line with Gallaudet’s learnings from the French.
BSL was not formally taught between the 1800s and 1940s
Schools in Britain focused exclusively on teaching students to speak and lipread. This was one of the downsides of BSL for Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. In addition to the lack of support from British institutions, Gallaudet was not confident that lipreading alone would produce satisfactory results. BSL managed to survive in secret, as the deaf community passed their knowledge from one to another, until the 1940s.
A grammar of its own
British Sign Language grammar is a combination of hand shapes/gestures, facial expressions and upper body movements. Syntax is unique and not a literal “conversion” of English sentence structure into signs. This may seem complex, but it is in fact a lot simpler. Rather than using verb tenses (past, present, future) you sign the verb in the infinitive (like “to go”) and use a gesture to indicate whether that happened before, now or after. It’s also a much more “straight to the point” language, without convoluted ways to communicate a simple message.
British Sign Language has regional dialects
Yes, you read that right. Just like with spoken language, depending on where you’re from in the UK, there will be a different dialect in your signs.
I met this amazing couple at a restaurant in Edinburgh. They were signing and I was at the early stages of my BSL course. They were from Doncaster and during our conversation their son often had to re-sign certain words and expressions as they differ between the regions. The signed alphabet is consistent across the regions though. So, if you struggle to understand a sign, ask for the person to fingerspell it!
BSL is an extraordinary language and I would highly recommend learning even if the basics only – like the alphabet in our flashcards. As a hearing person who is now learning BSL, I find myself using it in a day-to-day context. For instance, communicating with someone at distance without the need to shout and disrupt everyone around me. Or simply trying to get my husband’s coffee order when he decides to answer a phone call whilst queueing for coffee!
If you’re interested in some free BSL content online here are a few useful links:
Mauda turned one last week. And the first month of 2022 is now ending. This last year has been challenging. At a time when we thought the vaccines and previous lockdowns would get us out of the pandemic, came further lockdowns and boosters to keep us safe. The end of the pandemic definitely seems to be near(er) now (fingers crossed) and we hopefully have a brighter future to look forward to. So, in our first blog of 2022 we look back at what has happened over this last year and plans for the future.Continue reading One Year of Mauda
Have you decided your New Year’s resolutions yet? Or would you prefer not to have any and see what the year brings? Whatever your preference, there’s no denying that a new year brings the hope of something “new” to be experienced. A hope that the next year will be better than the previous (and we sure need that to happen)!Continue reading New Year’s Resolutions
It’s looking like this will be yet another lite Christmas, despite efforts to make it a celebration like “in the olden days”. Minimise indoor gatherings, exercise social distancing in open spaces… At this point we have heard it all and done it all. It’s tiring, but needed, so the best is try to make the most of what we’re allowed to do.Continue reading (“New Normal”) Christmas Outfit Ideas
December 20th marks International Human Solidarity Day – a day to
- celebrate our unity in diversity;
- remind governments to respect their commitments to international agreements;
- raise public awareness of the importance of solidarity;
- encourage debate on the ways to promote solidarity for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals including poverty eradication;
- a day of action to encourage new initiatives for poverty eradication. (2021, taken from https://www.un.org/en/observances/human-solidarity-day)
Less than 3 weeks until Christmas now! Can you believe it? Despite the news on the new strain, it’s looking likely that we will still be able to meet loved ones and even co-workers for the festive season. Which means, you’re likely to get involved in the workplace Secret Santa at some point. If you don’t have the time to think about Secret Santa gifts, read on.Continue reading Workplace Secret Santa ideas
It’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The theme for this year is: “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.” Launching Mauda has given me an opportunity to learn more about disability and the challenges the still prevalent lack of inclusive design pose.Continue reading International Day of Persons with Disabilities
If you’re on track with our suggestions to prepare for the festive season, then you may have started thinking about Christmas gift wrapping themes. For some this is the equivalent of a crafty activity to help unwind from work, but for others this can be yet another daunting “chore”. Who cares how gifts are wrapped anyway? Kids will enjoy the experience of ripping the paper to uncover the gift inside, regardless of what the wrapping looks like. However, nice wrapping isn’t as difficult to achieve as it may initially seem. Honestly. Are you still doubting? Let me share a few tips with you!Continue reading 10 Christmas gift wrap ideas