Deaf News: BSL SignBank, a ‘living’ British Sign Language dictionary, is launched online

Posted on October 7, 2014

Now anyone with an interest in British Sign Language (BSL) will have access to the first ever usage-based dictionary created at one of the world’s leading research Universities.

The dictionary has been developed by academics at the Deafness Cognition and Language (DCAL) Research Centre based at University College London. The signs were collected from the BSL Corpus, a large collection of videos of signing that have been recorded and described.

It differs from other dictionary type BSL resources because it has been uniquely developed using the same principles as dictionaries for spoken languages.

Until now, online dictionaries available to BSL users, and people learning the language, have consisted of BSL signs that are translation equivalents of English words, perhaps decided by one or a few people.

BSL SignBank is based on signs used by 249 Deaf people filmed all over the UK. Visitors will see more signs for colours, countries, numbers and UK place names than any other BSL dictionary.

Kearsy Cormier, Senior Researcher at DCAL said:

“We are delighted to launch BSL SignBank. It is a living dictionary and will grow as we view and study more of the BSL Corpus. We are sure it will be the most up-to-date and informative resource available as we will be using crowdsourcing to continually seek the views of the Deaf community on missing signs.”

BSL SignBank can be found on-line at

The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne. 

Find out how to write for us by clicking here, how to follow us by clicking here, and read our disclaimer here.

The site exists thanks to our supporters. Check them out below:


Posted in: deaf news