Jen Dodds: Why from now on, I’ll be aiming to sign (and write) my articles for Limping Chicken! (BSL)

Posted on April 11, 2014

Last month, I wrote about how non-signing deaf people keep saying “what about us?” when signing deaf people campaign for BSL related stuff, like a BSL Act.

That article went online at about 7am; lots of people read it and commented about it, including on Twitter and Facebook. Then, at 10 or 11am that day, I got an email from a signing deaf friend of mine that made me feel really bad.

To watch this article in BSL, click here or press play below:

He asked me; “I’ve been trying to read your column, but I couldn’t understand most of it. Is there any chance you could translate it to BSL for me?”

I was stunned. I thought I’d written it in quite plain English, but I obviously hadn’t. Of course, I was more than happy to translate it to BSL, but I also had a big work deadline that day, so was simply unable to do it then.

I knew it was important to do it, though, so I asked my friend Heidi if she could possibly do it. To my great relief, she said yes! However, there were a few technical issues, so the BSL version didn’t go online until the next day (click here to see/read it).

My friend was happy and thanked me, but I didn’t feel that I deserved his thanks. My column should have been in both languages in the first place!

BSL always comes last.

This all made me think about how the brilliant deaf comedian John Smith always jokes, “Why is it always about the ear?! Everything revolves around it!”, because we’re always up against annoying auditory barriers like loudspeakers and alarms and things.

The same could be said about English: Why is it always about English?! Everything revolves around it! English is everywhere. It’s all over the internet; it’s in books; it’s even on television, via subtitles.

The world is simply crammed full of English, which many deaf people don’t understand… and I’m actually ADDING MORE ENGLISH to it. Well, that’s just great(!)

But it’s not really great. So, from now on, I’m going to aim to try and make sure that everything I contribute to Limping Chicken is in both BSL and English. We need more BSL in this world!

I’m not trying to be some kind of martyr. I’m not a model of BSL perfection at all! I’m just trying to be practical; because if I can do something, I should.

Actually, lots of us are bilingual, so I hope there’ll be more Limping Chicken contributions in BSL. (I know it’s often not possible; people don’t always have the skill, technology, time or confidence.)

If you can do it, though, maybe you could consider it… after all, there’s plenty of English around already!

Jen Dodds is a Contributing Editor for The Limping Chicken. When she’s not looking after chickens or children, Jen can be found translating, proofreading and editing stuff over at Team HaDo Ltd ( On Twitter, Jen is @deafpower.

The Limping Chicken is the UK’s independent deaf news and deaf blogs website, posting the very latest in deaf opinion, commentary and news, every weekday! Don’t forget to follow the site on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our supporters on the right-hand side of this site or click here.

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Posted in: jen dodds, Regulars