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About us

About iBSL

IBSL is a leading UK awarding organisation providing British Sign Language (BSL) and other qualifications linked to Deaf Studies. We develop our qualifications in partnership with teachers, Deaf community organisations and government to support BSL-related education in ways which enable all learners to reach their full potential.

Our Background

Since its formation, IBSL has maintained an ethos where it is led and managed by Deaf people. It has an all-Deaf Board of Trustees and its management is Deaf-led.

The current IBSL Board of Trustees are:

  • Mary Humphries – Chair
  • David Duller
  • Linda Day
  • Peter Jackson
  • Michelle Jones -Executive Director

From the beginning, IBSL has relied on a heavy input by volunteers to develop its portfolio and to run the organisation. Although it now has (and is still developing) a small staff team (which includes hearing people to administer day-to-day activities and answer telephones), IBSL continues to be reliant on volunteers for a lot of its work.


Mary Humphries
Mary Humphries
David Duller
David Duller
Michelle Jones
Michelle Jones
Linda Day
Linda Day


Our History

IBSL was originally an idea developed by the British Deaf Association created in 2004. It needed to become independent in order to achieve awarding body status, and therefore registered with Companies House as an independent company in March 2007. Company number: 6201561. It subsequently became a Charity registered with the Charity Commission on 21 September 2015, Charity no. 1163674.

IBSL (as an independent awarding organisation) was recognised and accredited by Ofqual, the Office of the Regulator for Qualifications and Examinations, in June 2009, and issued its first qualifications in April 2010.

Since then, it has developed a portfolio of accredited qualifications linked to British Sign Language. It is continuing to develop this portfolio to expand into Deafblind Communication, Deaf Studies and Interpreting qualifications.

Our Team

At IBSL, we have a small but dedicated staff supported by volunteers and out-sourced consultants who help us to run and develop the organization.


Michelle Jones
Michelle Jones
Executive Director
Mark Hart
Mark Hart
Qualifications & Resources Officer
Pauline Tolfree
Pauline Tolfree
Finance & HR Manager
Chloe Tolfree
Chloe Tolfree
Management Support Administrator

Our Partners

IBSL is pleased to work with a number of organisations as partners in our work.


The British Deaf History Society maintains the National Deaf Museum & Archives based in the same suite of offices as IBSL and WDSDP. The aim of the BDHS is to preserve and conserve the histories of Deaf people, their communities, culture and language.

IBSL is grateful to the BDHS for its tremendous support during the formative years of the institute when it was establishing itself.


BSLcourses provides online classes, tutorials, e-assessments and evidences for those who find it more convenient or less expensive to study BSL from home rather than travel to classes. Using only award-winning, flexible and simple technology, BSLcourses create bespoke courses and progression plans to suit each students’ individual needs.

Throughout their courses, students gain access to video classes and one-to-one webcam tutorials with their tutor preparing them with valuable feedback and support towards their e-assessments and development of BSL skills and knowledge. Achieving BSL qualifications has never been more convenient.


Signworld is a huge website offering reasonably-priced BSL teaching and learning resources. It complies with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and provides the complete support for teachers and learners working towards IBSL qualifications. It will eventually offer BSL resources at every Level, from 1 to 4. It also has resources for fingerspelling, many specialist areas, and online support packages for BSL teachers.

Signworld lets you learn directly from BSL (you can’t learn BSL from English text!) at your own pace. You can fly through things very quickly if you’re a natural, and it’s easy to be relaxed in your learning if you like to go at your own pace. As you’d expect, it can be accessed 24/7, from anywhere that has an internet connection. That’s 21st century learning, being able to plan ahead and learn at any time you want.


The Deaf Ex-Mainstreamers Group (DEXperience) is an entirely deaf-led organisation that exists to raise awareness of the daily struggle and isolation that deaf children have in mainstream education. It is the only national organisation for deaf children run by deaf people.

DEXperience welcomes everybody, whatever education experience they have, to support our campaign and we have adopted ‘DEXperience’ to show that we are inclusive of all. DEX uses the English dictionary definition of the term “deaf” to mean “wholly or partially without hearing” to apply to all children who have any degree of hearing loss.

Sign for Thoughts Logo

“Sign for Thoughts is a Deaf-led Training centre, based in Hamspshire (Surrey / Berkshire border).  We provide courses and awareness sessions for BSL, Deafblind and Interpreting.

We believe very strongly that Sign Language should be available to EVERYONE, because with Sign Language we can open up the world with wonderful communication, where Deaf, Deaf/ Blind and hearing communities warmly welcome each other, and lifelong friendships can be made

NRCPD Logo Web 2010

NRCPD exists to protect the public by regulating communication language professionals who work with deaf and deafblind people. They hold registers of interpreters for deafblind people, lipspeakers, notetakers, sign language interpreters, sign language translators and speech to text reporters.


Visual Language Professionals (VLP) was established in 2010 for British Sign Language Interpreters to support each other on a local and national basis, to promote and maintain high standards of sign language interpreting and encourage good practice throughout the profession.


Based in Surrey, Bob McCluskey runs his own successful, independent business teaching BSL classes. He is profoundly deaf and has been a tutor for several years.  He also teaches freelance at other organisations including Brooklands College for three years and Winchester Hospital for the last year.

He wants all his students to learn BSL in a fun environment whilst at the same time is committed to teaching them all that they need to know and to pass the exam with flying colours!


Teach Me Sign prides themselves in providing fun and engaging British Sign Language courses in levels 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 as well as Deaf awareness workshops. They strive to provide the best tuition possible to suit the needs of individual students, businesses and organisations by offering continuous support throughout the course from tutors who are passionate about their students’ education.

Their courses, which are available in an online or in-person format, are supported by a wealth of online resources, tests and videos which students are given access to at the start of the course in order to give them the best chance of success.


‘We are proud to be one of Surrey’s largest providers of vocational training and further and Higher Education. Our course offering is diverse and our teaching excels, with students travelling long distances to benefit from the Brooklands College experience. The support we provide for our students is also second to none and well recognised as one of our key drivers for success.’