Science of sign language

8th February 2008 at 00:00
A new vocabulary of sign language has been developed at Edinburgh University to make science easier for deaf pupils.

Experts have compiled a glossary of more than 250 signs for scientific terms, which can be found on a website.

The resource is a response to growing demand from deaf pupils and teachers for a wider scientific vocabulary in British Sign Language.

It means that a simple word such as "virus" can be communicated with a single hand gesture rather than spelling it out letter by letter.

The website, funded by the Scottish Government, provides online video clips of the new terms and definitions in British Sign Language, which will help pupils studying chemistry, physics, maths and biology.

The vocabulary has been developed by a team of deaf scientists and pupils working with education specialists at Edinburgh University's Scottish Sensory Centre.

British Sign Language is used by around 6,000 people in Scotland and over 90,000 in the United Kingdom. Hundreds of deaf pupils in Scotland could benefit from the project.

Rachel O'Neill, of Edinburgh's University's school of education, said: "It is difficult to make changes to British Sign Language as individual signers make their own decisions about which terminology to use, but the exceptional quality of this project means there is every chance these new signs will be widely used."

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