In theatre, BSL interpreters are hired to translate or interpret your show from English for the benefit of audience members with hearing impairments.

British Sign Language (BSL) is the sign language used in the United Kingdom and is the first or preferred language of Deaf people in the UK. Action on Hearing Loss estimated that, in 2010, approximately 50,000 people in the UK used BSL.

  • Many people who do not identify as Deaf, use BSL. They can include hearing relatives or friends of Deaf people, interpreters and many others interacting with the British Deaf community.

  • BSL uses movement of the hands, body, face and head to convey information.

  • A BSL interpreter can be hired to translate or interpret your show from English for the benefit of audience members with hearing impairments.

  • Most service providers will need to have seen your show beforehand to translate to BSL - ideally from a copy of a DVD, script or other recording.

  • Different providers may specialise in particular genres. Ideally your performance will have a longer run at the Fringe to allow the provider to see it beforehand and become accustomed to timings. However there are some BSL interpreters who can work in a live, unscripted environment.

If you are looking for an interpreter, SASLI provide contact details for BSL interpreters throughout Scotland, by region, on their ‘Find an Interpreter’ page.

  • This is a very flexible type of adaptation - simply requiring space for the BSL interpreter at the side of the stage during the performance.
  • It is important that your venue is able to light the interpreter effectively - discuss this with your venue manager when planning a BSL interpreted performance.

Florence O'Mahony of Zoo Co shares her experience of creating a show for d/Deaf and hearing audiences for the first time.