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An Introduction to Finger Spelling

Updated on November 10, 2008

The National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) Fingerspellathon is a sponsored spell. It will help to improve spelling and children will learn more about childhood deafness by taking part. The Children will also learn a valuable new skill.

Whether you and your pupils are experienced users or completely new to fingerspelling you can get involved in this exciting event. Children can learn a new skill and gain a better understanding of deafness and if your pupils are already BSL (British Sign Language) users this is a great way for them to practise their spelling skills.

Key Features

Fingerspelling is an important and integrated part of British Sign Language (BSL). It relies on knowledge of the alphabet. The basic alphabet can be learnt quickly but lots of practice is needed to become fluent and be able to follow what others are spelling out. Depending on the situation, fingerspelling can be used to spell out words fully, the initial letter or sometimes an abbreviated from of word.

Five Fascinating Facts About Fingerspelling

  1. It is mainly used for names, people, places and things which do not have their own unique sign.
  2. It is used for acronyms e.g., BBC, ITV and BSL
  3. Fingerspelling is different across the world and each country has its own fingerspelling alphabet.
  4. BSL uses a two-handed fingerspelling alphabet but many countries only have a one haded fingerspelling alphabet e.g. America and Ireland.
  5. It is often used for new brand names.


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