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to expect BIL to learn BSL

(50 Posts)
howaboutaspoon Sun 09-Oct-11 23:45:37

Me and OH are in the process of moving in with each other.
OH is deaf and we use BSL (I already knew a far bit when we met) he can also lip read

Now my family has always made an effort to use BSL (luckily DParents knew a far bit already and SIL is 'fluent') My DNs (2 girls and 1 boy) have discovered it is fun to pick up words etc.

Now BIL has not made an effort at all to learn BSL or even use basic signs eg thank you, please, tea? etc the things you use all the time. Meaning when we are together OH is excluded or we have to 'translate' then reply while signing then translate for BIL what DP has said.

DP is use to this to some extent in RL but within my family it seems very very odd and alien to both him and me.

To some excent I can understand not learning completely when me and DP started going out, but he has been around for a bit we are moving in together now.

AIBU to expect him to learn?

CardyMow Sun 09-Oct-11 23:52:06

Nope, YANBU. Your BIL sounds delightful. hmm. Is there any chance you could get through an entire visit with him while talking in a language he cannot speak? Maybe that would get through to him just how isolating that can be?

I am not 'fluent' in BSL, but can do some simple signs (think signs a non-verbal 3yo would use, then add 4 yrs of non-use...) and if there was someone in my family who communicated with BSL first and foremost (lip-reading is very tiring, my DD does lip-read at least 1/2 the time) then I would damn well get off my arse and learn - and be apologetic for not being able to talk to your OH to start off with.

Maybe you all should just freeze your BIL out during these visits - and when / if he complains, say that you thought it was OK to behave like that as that is what he is doing to your OH?

People like that drive me round the bend. <<Gets off high horse>>

MSDP Sun 09-Oct-11 23:54:33

YWBU to expect him to try and learn fluently or to take the time to actively learn independently of your time together as a family. But a few words here and there is not that hard and would probably be appreciated. TBH he sounds like a bit of a pain in the rear, ignore him.

saffron Mon 10-Oct-11 00:04:59

Well your BIL sounds lovely hmm he will learn some even while trying his hardest not too. YANBU

HipHopOpotomus Mon 10-Oct-11 00:26:21

How about an afternoon or 2 of mainly communicating via BSL only so BIL gets a taste of what it is like to be left out? grin

spiderpig8 Mon 10-Oct-11 00:45:27

YABU. Why the hell should he ?

Sirzy Mon 10-Oct-11 07:42:07

I think it would be nice of him to learn to basics to communicate with him a bit. You can't expect people to be fluent (which I know your not!) but if I was in regular contact with someone who was deaf I would want to learn how to have at least a simple conversation.

He could pick up the basics easily enough by watching the conversations so it's hardly a lot to ask

LydiaWickham Mon 10-Oct-11 07:50:06

Sorry, bit confused, is your sister fluent and your Brother in law (her husband) not using any signs? could you have a word with her to ask her to teach him at least hello, goodbye, please and thankyou? If I go to another country, even if they staff at hotels speak english, I will always try to at least say please and thank you in their language, little effort seems to go a long way.

If he's not married to the one who can sign, does his wife use signs?

YANBU to expect a couple of courtesy signs to be used, you might find after a while he will anyway.

Grumpla Mon 10-Oct-11 07:52:46

If your OH was French it certainly wouldn't be unreasonable to learn "hello" "thankyou" etc so no, YANBU!

slavetofilofax Mon 10-Oct-11 07:52:47

I can understand you feeling upset about this on behalf of your dp, but in general, your family sounds lovely. It's great that your parenst have made the effort to learn some BSL, it's not something that they had to do. Focus on the posite people in your family that do want to include your dh.

I don't think your BIL is BU not to learn, he doesn't have to, nor is he obliged to. It would just be a nice gesture.

You said it's tiring lip reading, and I honestly didn't know that. I only know one deaf lady, and she manages lip reading very well. I don't see her often and it wouldn't occur to me the she finds it tiring when communication with lip reading, I always just see her as someone that manages well. Maybe your BIL is the same and just doesn't realise because of the lip reading and the translating that you do.

Andrewofgg Mon 10-Oct-11 08:29:37

YANBU if you mean to a basic level.

madam52 Mon 10-Oct-11 08:47:34

I too am slightly confused about S-I-Ls and B-I-Ls and who is who ? Is the one who wont learn your OHs brother or your Sisters DH ??

Sorry I need to understand these things ( even though they dont really impact on the subject as he is either way a close family member grin )


<head explodes from having to solve problem without fully understanding who all the characters are>

Pendeen Mon 10-Oct-11 08:56:07

It would help if you explained what 'BSL' is!

fiveisanawfullybignumber Mon 10-Oct-11 08:59:36

pendeen - British Sign Language.
YANBU, your BIL is quite a charmer!

babybythesea Mon 10-Oct-11 09:15:32

Bring in Mr Tumble! I didn't even know how much my daughter and I knew until we started talking to a deaf lady who lives just up the road. True, it's not necessarily the best signs for conversation (I don't often need to show everyone the lighthouse!) but it's really not hard to pick up a few basic signs.

YANBU. Even it's just to be able to include your DP when asking everyone if they want a cup of tea. It's rude to just leave someone out because they don't understand you, and it isn't as though your DP hasn't made an effort to learn a language (so it's not as though he's immigrated and has made a decision not to learn English - in those circumstances, maybe ignoring would be forgiven).

It's no different to not asking someone if they want a cup of tea because they happen to be sitting in a wheelchair.

I understand people who think he's not obliged to (just like no-one is obliged to learn Spanish if they don't want to), but if this is his main form of communication, what this is essentially saying is the guy is not obliged to even try and communicate with someone who is going to be in his family for the foreseeable. Again, he's not obliged to, but is there no point at which common decency would say it's the welcoming thing to do? If you spent time with your partner's family, would you not be frustrated by someone who, for no reason other than they couldn't be arsed to talk to you, froze you out all the time? What if the OP's partner had been minus an arm, instead of minus hearing? Would it be ok to just not talk to him then? Strikes me as the height of selfishness to say "It's ok for me to freeze you out, based purely on a physical 'disability', because I can't be bothered to learn even the one sign that covers please and thank you.'

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Mon 10-Oct-11 09:22:05

Your BIL possibly feels a little bit inhibited. He's an 'outsider' to your family and for some people they feel that quite keenly. I think it's sometimes difficult for some adults not to feel foolish or daft doing something different and he perhaps feels that as he hasn't done it to date, all eyes will be on him and it's harder now to just get into it and get started. I think it's much easier for kids.

Perhaps he needs a bit of help with that? Could you ask him on a one to one and maybe gently explain how much it would mean to your partner to feel included in conversation?

Pendeen Mon 10-Oct-11 09:28:42


Thank you. |Understood. I had not heard of 'British Sign Language'.

Amongst all the BILs, SILs, OHs, DPs, RLs, and DNs - some of which are in the MumsNet guide - I began to wonder if the OP was writing in a UK language or not.

Which is rather peculiar of her considering she is asking for advice on a communication problem!

notcitrus Mon 10-Oct-11 09:35:24

If BIL is your OH's brother, he's a twonk.
If it's your BIL, then can you get your sister (his wife, presumably?) to have a word?

A lot of people though do find it incredibly difficult to do actions and realise they are likely incomprehensible and get embarrassed about it - it's a skill that most people just don't have. I'm one of them and I am deaf! I couldn't cope with BSL level 2 and found Mr Tumble really difficult (after a couple years of him and Sing+Sign classes I can now sign at toddler level pretty well, though, and my rusty SSE/BSL can manage basic adult stuff).
MrNC, despite lots of effort and 15 years, can do about 4 signs to a level I can understand, though he's pretty good at emotive gestures.

Assuming BIL isn't OH's brother in which case he's probably beyond help, I'd focus on basic deaf awareness: get OH's attention before speaking, make clear the subject of the conversation - write down on paper or phone if you have to, and helpful gestures like the universal 'want a drink' one.

boohoohoo Mon 10-Oct-11 09:36:15

It sounds as though he is embarrassed and feels a little intimidated, BSL uses a lot of NMF (non manual features), have u spoken to your SIL? I should imagine that as your DP lip reads he probably doesnt feel the need to learn to sign, give him a little time, and he will probably just use some without realising it.

howaboutaspoon Mon 10-Oct-11 11:00:11

Sorry if that was confusing

BIL is my Brother's husband
SIL is my Brother's Wife

I have 2 brothers.


Pendeen Mon 10-Oct-11 11:01:51

" BIL is my Brother's husband "

Now that's really confusing! smile

Bramshott Mon 10-Oct-11 11:05:27

YABU to expect BIL to learn it, but YANBU to wish he would.

slavetofilofax Mon 10-Oct-11 11:07:33

Why this

DP is use to this to some extent in RL but within my family it seems very very odd and alien to both him and me.

To some excent I can understand not learning completely when me and DP started going out, but he has been around for a bit we are moving in together now.

if you are referring to your dh's own brother?? confused

I expect he has been in your dp's life longer than you have! It's not really any of your business, it's between dp and his brother.

EllaDee Mon 10-Oct-11 11:09:01

Actually, I think it is a little unreasonable to expect him to learn a foreign language. My brother is married to a German woman and I am married to a Russian man. Should I get cross with my other brother and his girlfriend because they're not yet fluent in German and Russian?! They have jobs and lives.

It'd be polite for your BIL to learn a few signs, I think - to show willing. Obviously it'd be absolutely lovely if he decided of his own accord to learn BSL. But IMO it is unfair to expect it of him.

Mind you, I also don't think you should all feel you have to be translating all the time. Your OH has no option so needs a translation, but your BIL should not expect you to translate everything your OH says just for him - if he does not speak the language he should accept he will miss parts of the conversation.

slavetofilofax Mon 10-Oct-11 11:09:02

Brother's husband?

I read husband's brother! blush

<bangs head on wall>

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