See Hear Talk  permalink

BSL - good manners

This discussion has been closed.

Messages: 1 - 6 of 6
  • Message 1. 

    Posted by Otter25 (U14189455) on Tuesday, 26th October 2010

    If you understand BSL and you are aware that you are being discussed (not in a good way) by two complete strangers, is it ever acceptable to interupt?

    My colleague didn't, she has CP and is deaf.

    She didn't as the culprits were grown men and she was worried about her safety and also theirs, as although they took great delight in goading her, their take on others on the bus was equally uncomfortable.

    She aired this incident at our network meeting yesterday and asked for views from the wider community hence the post on here.

    Description of those invoved has been circulated, so that others can if possible avoid them. BSL is to some degree a lingua franca.

    I think the bottom line is when does a private conversation become public and does the same apply to BSL as to any other language?

    Report message1

  • Message 2

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by AndyfromCornwall (U14342750) on Tuesday, 26th October 2010

    It is certainly very rude but I suppose they were relying on the fact that only a tiny proportion of the population can understand sign. It is fairly rare in the population as a whole and so the chances of someone actually understanding anything are remote.

    In the company of deaf people then of course you are not supposed to eavesdrop other conversations. This is likely to be poorly received.

    Report message2

  • Message 3

    , in reply to message 2.

    Posted by Otter25 (U14189455) on Tuesday, 26th October 2010

    you are damned if you do and damned if you don't and the bullies get away with it scott free

    Report message3

  • Message 4

    , in reply to message 3.

    Posted by Otter25 (U14189455) on Tuesday, 26th October 2010

    My feeling is that they were drawing attention away from themselves on to her. They did spend a lot of time stairing at her.

    Although the comment of "oh look a R, it will be funny if she falls over" followed by audio apparent laughter does make you wonder if these two are not the Deaf community's finest. While taking up the mid section of the bus and "Loudly" signing- so everyone was looking at them.

    Report message4

  • Message 5

    , in reply to message 4.

    Posted by Pigletwiglet (U7577434) on Tuesday, 26th October 2010

    Hello Otter,

    As Cornishandy says it's rude full stop but people will do anything to be rude if they think other people can't understand. It makes them feel big to be making jokes about other people in their own private language: but of course bigging yourself up at other people's expense is a sure sign of their own insecurity.

    Hopefully your friend won't run into these two again and I can understand how threatening she found the situation. I can understand that your friend found it too intimidating to tell them where to get off - it's always a worry these days how nasty people can turn in a second if challenged in public - but if they make fun of people in public by signing "loudly" like that then their meaning will be quite clear and it won't be long before they pick the wrong target, and someone takes exception to it. They'll probably learn the hard way then.

    I'd quite like to bet that if someone interrupted them in BSL then it would take the wind out of their sails as most bullies are cowards, but you have to judge the situation on its merits and there's no point putting yourself in danger or anything.

    In the meantime she should try where possible to sit at the front of the bus near the driver for safety and I'm assuming that she will be entitled to sit in the front seats and not have to look at anyone anyway. If she meets them again and feels concerned for her safety she could drop a line to the bus company.

    My South African cousin once had a similar experience when she was out with me on the Tube. She heard two Dutchmen assessing the women on the Tube very frankly and crudely thinking they wouldn't be understood. However, Afrikaans is very close to Dutch, and she could understand every word. As we drew in to the station she stood up and addressed the men with her most dazzling smile and insulted them right back in Afrikaans as we alighted, leaving them open-mouthed. That was exactly the right moment and I applaud her for it, but as I said before, you can only pick battles you can win.

    You are a good friend to her and I am glad she has a friend like you to support her and ask around about it.

    All best wishes,


    Report message5

  • Message 6

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Otter25 (U14189455) on Sunday, 31st October 2010

    cornish andy and pigletwidget

    thanks so much for your replies, I will relate them back tomorrow

    Report message6

Back to top

About this Board

The Ouch! messageboard has now closed. Messages you have posted will remain archived.

or register to take part in a discussion.

The message board is currently closed for posting.

To continue the conversation visit Ouch's blog ( - now part of BBC News. There you'll find our podcast, regular blog entries and articles, community events, and links to where you can find us on Facebook and Twitter.

This messageboard is reactively moderated.

Find out more about this board's House Rules

Search this Board

Live community panel

Our blog is the main place to go for all things Ouch! Find info, comment, articles and great disability content on the web via us.

Mat and Liz
Listen to our regular razor sharp talk show online, or subscribe to it as a podcast. Spread the word: it's where disability and reality almost collide.

More from the BBC

BBC Sport

Disability Sport

All the latest news from the paralympics.

Peter White

In Touch

News and views for people who are blind or partially sighted.

BBC Radio 4

You & Yours

Weekdays 12.40pm. Radio 4's consumer affairs programme.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.