How to Sign Numbers in British Sign Language


British Sign Language is an official language recognised by the United Kingdom, used mostly by those in the deaf community. This wikiHow will teach you how to sign numbers to help you sign your age, time or date to help you to communicate with those who are deaf.

Part 1
Understanding the Basics When Signing Numbers

Understanding the Basics When Signing Numbers on How to Sign Numbers in British Sign Language

1
When signing all numbers, you only use your dominant hand. Your non-dominant hand is not used at all for numbers. To avoid confusion with other signs, position this hand by your side. This ensures that the deaf person knows that you are signing a number and not something else.

Understanding the Basics When Signing Numbers on How to Sign Numbers in British Sign Language

2
It is important when signing numbers that numbers are signed a few inches away directly in front of your body. Don't sign too high or too low from the centre of your body, otherwise, the other person won't be able to see what you are signing.

Understanding the Basics When Signing Numbers on How to Sign Numbers in British Sign Language

3
When you are signing a number, it is important that you mouth the number at the same time. This is so that the other person knows that you are signing a number and so won't confuse it with another sign. Don't say the number using your voice, just use your lips to show the number you are signing.

Part 2
Signing the Numbers 1-10

Signing the Numbers 1-10 on How to Sign Numbers in British Sign Language

1
These signs are very simple and are used when signing numbers higher than 19. The signs for 1-5 are very simple: Sign the number 1: Use your dominant hand and put your index finger upwards, keeping the rest of your fingers in a fist, ensuring that the palm of your hand is facing inwards (towards your body). Sign the number 2: Use your dominant hand to point your index and middle finger upwards, making a 'V' shape. Make sure the rest of your fingers are in a fist and your palm is facing your body. Sign the number 3: Using your dominant hand, point your index, middle and ring fingers upwards, forming a 'W' shape. Keep the rest of your fingers in a fist, pointing inwards towards you. Make sure your fingers are separate and not touching. Sign the number 4: Using your dominant hand, point your fingers upwards except for your thumb. Hold this central to your body a few inches away from your chest. Keep your thumb behind your other four fingers. Make sure to leave a small, even space between your fingers making sure your fingers are not touching. Sign the number 5: Use your dominant hand to hold up all five fingers centrally in front of you, a few inches away from your chest. Keep the palm of your hand facing towards you. Make sure you leave even gaps between your fingers ensuring that your fingers are not touching each other.

Signing the Numbers 1-10 on How to Sign Numbers in British Sign Language

2
These numbers are combined with the numbers 1-5 to sign numbers from 20 upwards. These signs are very simple and easy to remember. Sign the number 6: Use your dominant hand to make a thumbs up. Then, keeping your fingers in a fist and your thumb facing upwards, bend the knuckle of your thumb to make a 90-degrees angle shape. Doing this ensures that the deaf person does not confuse this sign with "ok". Make sure to sign this centrally in front of you, a few inches away from your chest. Sign the number 7: Place your dominant hand a few inches away from your chest and make a 'thumbs up' and point your index finger outwards, keeping the rest of your fingers in a fist shape. Sign the number 8: Make a thumbs up with your dominant hand a few inches away from your chest. At the same time, point your index and middle finger outwards, keeping your thumb in the same position. Sign the number 9: Use your dominant hand placed a few inches away from your chest to make a thumbs up. Keeping your pinky finger bent, extend all your other fingers outwards, leaving your thumb pointing upwards.

Signing the Numbers 1-10 on How to Sign Numbers in British Sign Language

3
This number is the only number that is signed using both hands, however, this sign is still simple to sign. How to sign the number 10: Hold your dominant hand horizontally, a few inches in front of your chest with your palm facing towards you and shake or twist your hand slightly.

Part 3
Signing the Numbers 11-19

Signing the Numbers 11-19 on How to Sign Numbers in British Sign Language

1
The signs for the numbers 11-19 are different from signing 1-10. For example, you do not combine 1 and 1 to make the sign for 11.

Signing the Numbers 11-19 on How to Sign Numbers in British Sign Language

2
The signs for 11-15 are very similar to the signs for 1-10 but are notably different. These signs are very simple: Sign the number 11: Using your dominant hand positioned a few inches away from your chest, put your wrist forwards and tap your thumb and index finger together twice, making sure that they are pointing forwards. Keep the rest of your fingers in a fisted position. Sign the number 12: Point the wrist of your dominant hand up and forwards. Put your thumb forwards and tap your index and middle fingers on top of your thumb twice. Sign the number 13: Using your dominant hand, hold out your index, middle and ring finger horizontally, keeping your thumb and pinky finger in a fist. Then, shake twice. Make sure your palm is facing towards your body, a few inches away from your chest. Sign the number 14: Using your dominant hand, hold out your index, middle, ring and pinky finger horizontally, keeping your thumb behind, shake twice. Make sure your palm is facing towards your body, a few inches away from your chest. Sign the number 15: With your dominant hand, hold up all five fingers centrally in front of you, a few inches away from your chest. Starting with your palm facing you, quickly rotate your hand the opposite way, then back again.

Signing the Numbers 11-19 on How to Sign Numbers in British Sign Language

3
These signs are different to the signs for 11-15, although they are similar to the signs for 6-9. These signs are simple: Sign the number 16: Make a thumbs up with your dominant hand, a few inches away from your chest. Bend the tip of your thumb slightly and move up and down twice. Sign the number 17: Making a thumbs up with your dominant hand, point your index finger outwards, to the side. Move your wrist up and down twice. Sign the number 18: Using your dominant hand, make a thumbs up a few inches away from your chest. Then, point out your pointer and middle finger and move this up and down twice. Sign the number 19: Making a thumbs up with your dominant hand, point out your pointer, middle and ring finger. Move this position up and down twice.

Part 4
Signing Integers That Aren't Multiples of 10

Signing Integers That Aren't Multiples of 10 on How to Sign Numbers in British Sign Language

1
Once you understand the signs for 21-29, these can be repeated for other numbers that aren’t multiples of 10. You just need to amend the signs to match the correct numbers. eg: 21 is a 2 and a 1, and then to sign 31, you’d replace the 2 with a 3. Sign the number 21 Use the sign for the number two (as shown above) and position this in front of the left shoulder. Then, sign the number one (as above), and position this in front of the right shoulder. Sign the number 22 Repeat the above step, but use another number two sign instead of the sign for the number one. Sign the number 23 Sign the number two (as above), in front of your left shoulder, then, move your hand over to the right and sign the number 3 (as above). Sign the number 24 Sign the number two (as above), and then sign the number four in front of your right shoulder. Sign the number 25 Sign number two in front of your left shoulder, then move your hand to in front of your right shoulder and sign the number five. (As above)