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You are in: Home > Articles > Signing Systems - Manual Systems

Signing Systems - Manual Systems

Signing Systems - Manual Systems

The following information was provided by Gillian Nelms, ACE Centre, Oxford.

British Sign Language
The Royal National Institute for Deaf People

BSL is the sign system used by the hearing impaired community.
It is a living language in that it grows and changes as spoken languages do.
BSL has its own language structure which is different to spoken and written English.
BSL contains a limited number of constituents, i.e. components of a sign, such as location, handshape, movement and orientation and facial expression, body positions and postures, all of which can occur simultaneously in a signed utterance.
BSL signs can be adapted for single handed use.
Finger spelling is an intrinsic part of BSL.

Signed English

Signed English uses signs from BSL with finger-spelling and specifically generated signs and grammatical markers.
It mirrors spoken language exactly.
Additional signs for vocabulary development are available from BSL.

Refers to signs from British Sign Language used to support spoken English. Only key words are signed. The Makaton Vocabulary and Signalong are examples of signed supported English.

Makaton Symbols


Sets of signs for a wide range of situations - including: at work, at play, practice sentences, National Curriculum and basic vocabulary.
Signalong can produce manuals of signs specific to indivudual needs, and offer a range of training options form introductory courses to tutor training.

Paget-Gorman Signed Speech (PGSS)

PGSS is a specifically generated language with topic based signs.
Meaning is changes by adding identifying features to the basic signs.
The system is based on 21 standard hand postures and 37 basic signs used in different combinations.
Very complex and exact finger and hand positions are used.
PGSS mirrors spoken language exactly, it has a one-to-one sign-to-word reference.

Cued Speech

Cued Speech is an oral language tool for use with and by the hearing impaired.
It may aid the development of language development, speech reading, speech and reading skills.
It uses eight handshapes and four hand locations combined with speech to make lip-reading clear.
It can be learnt by children or adults of any age.
Cued Speech can be learnt in 15-20 hours.

Graphics Systems - Picture Sets

Symbol Systems

Speech and Language Difficulties


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