The British Sign Language (BSL) Corpus is a collection of video clips showing Deaf people using BSL, together with background information about the signers and written descriptions of the signing in ELAN (annotation files will be available on this site in mid-late 2014). The video clips were collected as part of the original BSL Corpus Project, funded between 2008 and 2011 by the Economic and Social Research Council.
The BSL Corpus is a publicly accessible, on-line record of BSL used by Deaf people in the UK. We know that BSL is changing rapidly due to changes in the Deaf community, so it is important that we have a record for the future. In the past, sign language researchers carried out their research by filming Deaf people, but often the videotapes and the data collected was never shared with other researchers or with the Deaf community. Having the BSL corpus on-line means that anyone with a computer and an internet connection is able to see the video data and also background information about the signers involved. This will allow for a greater exchange of ideas and information between sign language researchers in universities and the Deaf community.
Having a corpus is also useful for several other reasons: it will directly lead to an improved understanding of BSL structure and use. This information is important for the education of Deaf children, for training sign language interpreters, and for BSL teachers.
The original BSL Corpus Project ended in 2011, and video data and some annotations are available. However, work on the Corpus is by no means finished! There is much left to be done – for follow-up and current projects see the Projects page.