OF course Rihanna would help make sign language sexy. On social media it was hard to miss videos of her ASL (American Sign Language) interpreter, Justina Miles, absolutely smashing her performance at the Super Bowl halftime show last month.

In interviews afterwards Ms Miles talked about how long she’d spent practising her dexterous, spikey, perfect-shot interpretation of the show.

She’s not the first to make headlines at making music accessible to deaf audiences, however. Glastonbury has had British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters at its stages, most notably Tara Asher stealing the scene from Stormzy with her visualisation of the Grime MC’s lyrics.

Did you know that America and Britain use different sign languages? I grew up learning Auslan – Australian sign language. When I was taking BSL classes my teacher was Irish and the interpreter kept good naturedly pulling him up for using ISL (Irish Sign Language).

People are often surprised about the fact sign languages are distinct in each country. Why would they be the same? But then, the assumption that every deaf person globally uses the same language quite neatly illustrates the ignorance around BSL and sign language more generally.

That is, that people assume it is an artificial, deliberate system of communication, rather than an organic language that has grown and developed through time, that has regional variations and local dialects.

It is also a language that has survived through a history of oppression and marginalisation. In 1880 the The Second International Congress on Education of the Deaf, held in Milan, saw speakers argue that sign language should be banned from deaf education and delegates passed resolutions that declared sign language to be inferior to oral education.

These delegates then returned to their own countries to advocate for the suppression of sign languages in schools around the world, a position that cast an extremely long shadow over sign language.

If you know any deaf people then you’ll know stories of people being shamed, mocked and criticised for using BSL in public. The language has come a long way to being recognised as an official language in Scotland, in 2015, having been recognised in England in 2003. The language was finally given legal protection with the BSL Act last year.

In sport there are now strides to having BSL incorporated and deaf sports fans fully included. BT Sport launched its Sign Up initiative to promote the profile of the deaf community in sport and has hired two BSL presenters to interpret football matches. The two commentators, Damaris Cooke and Rolf Choutan, are incredible, improving accessibility for deaf sports fans but also bringing commentary on the match to life in an energising new way.

Music, sport, it feels like BSL is having a moment. And in education too: last week the Welsh government announced that Wales has become the first part of the UK to enshrine BSL as part of the curriculum.

I really object to the trope that schools can teach away all of society’s ills – any time an issue arises someone will suggest the resolution should be taught in schools. But here I am a hypocrite.

Like Gaelic, BSL is a national language. You are very likely to come across a BSL user in everyday life and be unable to communicate with them – we should be teaching young people how to sign. If Wales can do it, so too can Scotland. And adults can at least learn some basics: the two-handed alphabet is a great place to start in helping Deaf people feel included and normalising sign language use.

It’s embarrassingly reductive and more than a bit silly to talk about languages in terms of “useful” and “not useful” but if we must talk about usefulness then BSL is just that. It’s also beautiful, expressive, fun to learn.

Last week was Sign Language Week in the UK, this year asking people to be a BSL ally. Be an ally - learn a little, improve a lot.