This page has explanations for various acronyms and terms that are used and that are familiar to the deaf and to students, but may not be to anyone else. If you’re not sure what something means, check here!

BADDBlogging Against Disabilism Day: a day every year (May 1st) where bloggers get together and write about the prejudice that they often face because of their disabilities.

BSLBritish Sign Language. The sign language in use in the UK, it was recognised as being an official language of the UK by the government in March 2003. Other countries have different sign language; it isn’t international and it isn’t necessarily linked to the same country that the spoken language of a country may be linked to. For example: in the USA, the main language is English, from England, but ASL derives from France and shares a common ancestor with LSF (langue des signes française, or French Sign Language). There are online BSL dictionaries with short video clips showing you how to sign, and most adult education colleges run courses.

CSW – Communication Support Worker. These are people who work with deaf students to facilitiate learning in a way that interpreters will not. CSWs have a slightly wider remit than the interpreter but their mastery of BSL may be slightly lower. CSWs are often found working with children or in the FE sector. There often is, for interpreters who work in the HE sector, some crossover between their interpreting and CSW roles.

Deaf/deaf – many people with hearing loss, particularly those who are pre-lingually deaf and who use sign language, differentiate between people who see themselves as being culturally deaf (the Deaf), who communicate via sign language, and immerse themselves in Deaf culture, and the deaf, who do not.

DSADisabled Students Allowance. A govt fund administered by SFE that pays for technical equipment and personal support (e.g. notetakers or interpreters) to allow students to overcome any barriers to education posed by their disability.

FEFurther Education (continuing education in the USA).

HEHigher Education.

Interpreter – often a BSL Interpreter (at least in the UK), they can move between spoken English and BSL.  Most are registered with NRCPD and ASLI and you can find interpreters through them, although there are also agencies in different parts of the country. Some people may prefer to use SSE or SEE instead of BSL as it sticks to an English word order. Interpreters are sometimes referred to as “signers” by people who don’t know any better, and come at different levels and with different skillsets – some are also CSWs, lip-speakers, note-takers, and so on. If you’re using an interpreter for the first time, this site may be useful.

Lip-speaker – people who will replicate what is said to a deaf person by silently moving their lips very clearly to allow the deaf person to lip read them. They are represented by the ALS.

Note-takers – people who can take notes for a deaf person, who cannot write while lip-reading or watching an interpreter. This can range from a friend whose notes you have borrowed through to people hired through the accessablity unit of the university through to professionals who are registered and who may hold certification in this. The Association of Notetaking Professionals represents the latter. The quality of notes taken for a deaf person will be very dependent on their training and certification, as it’s the most difficult form of note-taking that a note-taker can do. As one interpreter and qualified note-taker friend of mine says, ‘if you can note-take for a deaf person, you can do it for anyone!’.

SFEStudent Finance England – the government body that provides both loans and grants of various kinds to students.

SSE/SEE – Signed Supported English (SSE) / Signed Exact English (SEE). Best thought of as pidgin languages between BSL and English they allow for the transmission of information in a way that sticks to the original word order (and grammar) of the originating speaker’s English, but uses sign to do so. This is of particular use in higher education settings when language can become very technical. It is also of great use for people who don’t feel particularly confident in their mental processing of BSL in their minds. Some view SSE/SEE as useful because they think they may allow deaf learners to learn English structure as well as BSL. Others strongly disagree with this, as they feel it means the learner ends up with incomplete knowledge of both languages, particularly if the learner is in the period where language aquisition is critical (up to the age of 5). It remains a topic that is hotly debated, particularly in the field of educating deaf children.

Most of these definitions provided are strictly my own. If you feel that the definitions are incorrect or that they are missing an important element of information, or you would like to suggest an additional link for a particular term, please feel free to contact me at Deafstudentuk at gmail dot com or leave a comment here. Thanks!

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