Jen Dodds: More deaf people should post signed videos online, no matter how fluent they are (BSL)

Posted on June 6, 2015

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Scroll down the page to see this article signed by Jen in BSL, or click here!

So, I’ve poured water over my head on Facebook, and seen everyone else do it too, coming to the conclusion that we deaf people are really quite bonkers.

(I know the water tipping thing was started by a hearing woman in New Zealand, and had nothing at all to do with deafness, but in the end, it was certainly embraced by British deaf people – and some from other countries too!)

Watching so many videos of deaf people signing their nominations and then drenching themselves was really quite amazing. For me, it showed how powerful and brilliant sign language can be.

To watch Jen signing her article in BSL, click play below!

It was especially great because it’s so easy to upload videos to the internet nowadays, but I know that lots of deaf people don’t do it because they’re not very confident about their signing skills and don’t think they’ll be “good enough”. Sigh.

The water tipping was a great leveller. It made us all equal; it stopped people being embarrassed, because no matter how they signed, well… we were all getting wet, innit.

I do find it sad that so many deaf people don’t express themselves in sign language online because they’re worried they’ll get criticised, so they make do with typing stuff in English instead… or they just don’t say anything at all.

In the same way, I’ve noticed that interpreters who have their own websites don’t usually upload BSL videos.

It’s rather strange seeing BSL/English interpreters’ sites just in English! Some interpreters get deaf people to translate their sites for them, which is nice, but quite ironic, no?

And, in case you’re wondering, I don’t think I’m a marvellous signer at all. I’ve simply been uploading videos for years, so I’ve become used to it and developed a thick skin.

After all, if my BSL is good enough to use generally, like in conversations with real people, surely it’s good enough for the internet?

I know that most deaf people prefer to see SOME signing rather than none at all, so if there’s something you want to say, why not have a go?

Even if you’re “quite SSE” or can’t sign much, it’s still worth trying, in my opinion. We deaf people can usually adapt well to each other and work out what other deaf people are saying. It’s one of our many secret skills!

It’s worth a go, honestly.

And yes, I know it’s important that we work towards high standards of BSL, too. Remember, though, I’m not talking about signing in court or health settings… this is just about Facebook!

Or why not even send a video to Limping Chicken?! Let the power of the water bucket continue…

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.

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