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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Sign with me

People use sign language for a lot of reasons – can you learn to fingerspell, and sign your way to success?

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You’ll need

  • Device with access to the internet
  • Copies of the fingerspelling alphabets (optional)
  • Access to a printer (optional)
Hello, my name is
PDF – 249.1KB

To watch in full screen, double click the video


Before you begin

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here.  Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Make sure you’ll have enough helpers for each team to have one. You may need some parents and carers to help out if you’re short on helpers.
  • Download (and print out, if needed) enough copies of the right handed and left handed fingerspelling alphabets, and ‘Hello, my name is’ sheets that everyone can see them.

Learn a phrase

  1. Everyone should sit in a circle with copies of the BSL fingerspelling alphabet.
  2. The whole group should practice their alphabet together – the person leading the game can show everyone how to make a letter, and then the group can copy.
  3. Once the group has practised the alphabet together, everyone should take a few moments on their own to practise fingerspelling their name.
  4. Everyone should get back in the circle, and practise signing ‘Hello, my name is’.
  5. Everyone should put the two parts of the phrase together. Now, they can introduce themselves, and understand someone else telling them their name.

Practise your phrase with a game

  1. Everyone should move around to mix up – they could run, skip, or dance.
  2. When the leader makes the sign for ‘sign’, everyone should get into a pair with the closest person to them. 
  3. The pairs should take it in turns to introduce themselves.
  4. Keep playing until everyone is confident introducing themselves, and understanding a word someone else is fingerspelling.

What is sign language

Sign language is a visual means of communication. It’s used by some people who are D/deaf, or who have hearing impairments – but it is also used by people with a range of learning and communication difficulties, people developing their language and literacy skills, and people looking after young children. Evidence suggests that gestures develop earlier than speech, so some people teach young children signs to help them communicate before they can talk.

Not all D/deaf people use sign language, and not everyone who uses sign language is D/deaf.

Types of sign language

  • British Sign Language (BSL) has its own grammar, structure, and syntax. This means that the words aren’t necessarily in the same order as they are in spoken English.
  • Makaton uses signs and symbols to support speech. You speak while you sign, so you sign words in the same order as in spoken English. You may recognise Makaton as it’s the sign language used in the TV programmes Something Special.
  • Other countries have their own sign languages – they can be very different.

Sign language in the UK

  • Around 145,000 people in the UK use BSL. There are lots of different estimates depending on whether BSL is someone’s first language.
  • BSL is a recognised minority language in the UK. It’s been recognised since 2003.


This activity helped you to develop your communication skills. Is it important to be able to communicate in a variety of ways? Can you remember who might use fingerspelling or sign language? Do you think fingerspelling is a useful skill? Was it easy to understand when people were using signs or fingerspelling? When else might sign language be useful? How is sign language different to other ways of communicating?

This activity also helped you to learn to respect others, regardless of their background. What do you think it feels like to speak a language not many other people understand? Do you think it makes life more difficult when people don’t speak the language you use? What could your group to change this – do you think it’s important to try to learn some basic words and phrases? How might that change things for people who use sign language?


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Make it accessible

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

Learn longer phrases in BSL - like the Promise. You could use British Sign’s vocabulary sheet creator to build new sentences or phrases to try.