British Sign Language (BSL) is the most common form of sign language in the United Kingdom and is used
by around 145,000 people. It has its own grammatical structure and
syntax and as a language it is not dependent nor is it strongly related
to spoken English.
People who use BSL have better reaction times in their peripheral vision, a new study from the University of Sheffield has found.
The findings, revealed by scientists from the University's Academic Unit of Ophthalmology and Orthoptics, show that hearing adults learning a visual-spatial language such as BSL has a positive impact on visual field response - something which is highly beneficial in many sports and when driving.
The pioneering research also found deaf adults have significantly better peripheral vision and reaction times than both hearing adults and BSL users, providing scientific evidence to support the common belief that losing one of your five senses, such as hearing, can enhance others like sight or smell.
"We found that deaf adults have faster reaction times around the whole of the visual field, extending as far as 85 degrees peripherally near the edge of vision," said Dr. Codina. "Our study shows that deaf people have exceptional visual abilities that hearing adults do not. These findings support the common belief in sensory compensation."
Results of the study are published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.