Sep 23

International Sign Languages Day

Deaf Community (Scotland)
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International Symbol for the Deaf
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To sign the word "tartan" or "plaid" in BSL, make the sign for a cloth with a criss-cross design. See here:

Deaf community members were prominent in lobbying the Scottish Parliament in 2015 to have the British Sign Language (BSL) Bill passed. And for a wonderful tutorial on how to sign Robert Burns' poem "Red, Red Rose" try here:

The International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL) is celebrated annually across the world on 23 September every year along with International Week of the Deaf.  The 23rd of September is the same date that the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) was established in 1951.


History records the existence of a sign language within deaf communities in England as far back as 1570. British Sign Language has evolved, as all languages do, from these origins by modification, invention and importation.


Thomas Braidwood, an Edinburgh teacher, founded 'Braidwood's Academy for the Deaf and Dumb' in 1760 which is recognised as the first school for the deaf in Britain. His pupils were the sons of the well-to-do. His early use of a form of sign language, the combined system, was the first codification of what was to become British Sign Language.  Joseph Watson was trained as a teacher of the deaf under Thomas Braidwood and he eventually left in 1792 to become the headmaster of the first public school for the deaf in Britain, the London Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb in Bermondsey.

In 1815, an American Protestant minister, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, travelled to Europe to research teaching of the deaf. He was rebuffed by both the Braidwood schools who refused to teach him their methods. Gallaudet then travelled to Paris and learned the educational methods of the French Royal Institution for the Deaf, a combination of Old French Sign Language and the signs developed by Abbé de l’Épée. As a consequence American Sign Language today has a 60% similarity to modern French Sign Language and is almost unintelligible to users of British Sign Language.

From the official register:

The Deaf community (Scotland) tartan was designed by the Tayside Deaf community in widespread consultation with the Scottish grassroots Deaf community, the Scottish Council on Deafness and members of the Cross Party Group on Deafness. This tartan celebrates the wider Scottish Deaf community and Deaf Culture. Deaf community members were prominent in lobbying the Scottish Parliament in 2015 to have the British Sign Language Bill passed. The colours represent the Scottish identity with varying blues and whites for the Scottish flag. The sett is bold and direct to represent Deaf Culture. The Scottish Deaf community and beyond wish to celebrate their empowerment and a coming of age by having its own tartan. The tartan will provide a unique symbol of identity, instill greater self-confidence and make a statement to the hearing world – we are proud of both our heritage and growing emancipation. The Deaf community (Scotland) tartan will be an iconic moment in the history of the Deaf community at home and worldwide. This tartan represents significant empowerment by the Scottish Deaf community who have been isolated and marginalised for generations.

This tartan has a companion tartan for the Deaf Community at large in shades of purple and violet.  The purple and violet represents creativity, pride, and independence. Pink represents friendship and approachability. Blue represents trust, loyalty, confidence and intelligence. Grey represents maturity and responsibility.

For a visual dictionary of how to sign the word "tartan" click the alphabet!

Officially registered tartan graphics on this site courtesy of The Scottish Tartans Authority.  Other tartans from talented tartan artists may also be featured.

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9 out of 10 kilt wearers agree - this is almost as thrilling as a good

tartaned kilt flip when going regimental! 

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