Frances Elton

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Frances Elton
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CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
  • Linguist
  • Sign Language teacher
  • trainer

Frances Elton is an English linguist, Sign Language teacher and trainer. She is Deaf and a British Sign Language user.


Elton was born in Poole to a Deaf family. She attended Mary Hare Grammar School. In her late twenties she moved to London. She then got a job in a sewing machine factory, and worked there for over eleven years. In London, she met her lifelong partner June Smith, and finally, in 1985, found a job in a Deaf environment, working with the British Deaf Association Deaf Video Project.[1]

Following that, she achieved a British Sign Language Training Course from Durham University in 1988, where the British Sign Language Training Agency had been set up by Clark Denmark in 1985. Frances then was recruited as a teacher and trainer herself, and worked for several years as a trainer of new Sign Language teachers.[2]

She was part of the original team involved in the publication of the British Sign Language Dictionary, which was published in 1992 and represents a milestone for British Sign Language. It is the first hardcopy dictionary of British Sign Language, and it depicts over 1,800 signs along with their definition and use.[3]

She then carried on work on Sign Language linguistics at University College of London[4][5], from which she took retirement in 2013.[6]


  1. "Tessa Padden: Interviewing Frances Elton for Close Up". The Limping Chicken.
  2. "Close up: Frances Elton". BSL Zone.
  3. Brien, David; Brennan, Mary, eds. (1993). Dictionary of British Sign Language. Durham: Faber & Faber. ISBN 0571143466.
  4. "Former DCAL staff and students". UCL.
  5. Ceil, Lucas, ed. (2001). The Sociolinguistics of Sign Languages. Durham: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521794749.
  6. "Frances Elton's Retirement Seminar". UCL.

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