BSLBT was set up in 2008 as an alternative way for independent broadcasters to meet their regulatory duty to provide programming in British Sign Language (BSL). For more information please read:

BSLBT was initially established as a private company, with a Board of Directors drawn in equal numbers from the broadcasting world and from the Deaf community. In January 2012 it achieved charitable status, retaining the commitment to an equal mix of Deaf and hearing Trustees.

Its charitable objectives are:
The promotion of social inclusion among the Deaf community who are socially excluded from society, or parts of society, as a result of being deaf by encouraging, supporting and developing the provision of broadcasting of sign-presented content (in any media) for the members of the Deaf community.

Independent broadcasters with between 0.5% and 1% of audience share can choose either to source and broadcast programmes presented in sign-language themselves or to pay an annual subscription fee, set by Ofcom, to BSLBT to make programmes in sign language for the Deaf audience.