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EDI - Learning British Sign Language

Did you know that some of our colleagues know British Sign Language (BSL)?

Elaine Lawrenson, Area Housing Officer for the Central Area, has been learning British Sign Language.

She said: “My local ale house started putting on BSL lessons for one hour every other week. They printed off lots of documents for things like the alphabet, how to say please and thank you, and how to hold basic conversations.

“I really enjoyed going as it has helped me speak to tenants at house meetings and attend visits with the tech officers. 

“The tenants at Bridge Court often come and chat with me. We giggle at what I do wrong, and they teach me the correct way. One of them always greets me with the sign for “cheeky devil.” 

“I think the Group should be more inclusive and aware of the deaf community. After all, we expect them to adapt to our language, but we sometimes forget that BSL is a language of its own.” 

Lisa Murphy, Field Services Team Leader at Lifeline, began to learn sign language in 2016. She has completed Levels 1 & 2 in BSL with Sign Right.

She said: “Being able to offer BSL support to Progress Housing Group customers and tenants will not only help my personal and professional development but help bridge the gap between hearing and deaf communities and support our equality and diversity commitments.”

She adds that she does not come into contact with many tenants in her role, but uses her skill to support her neighbours who are deaf: “I am keeping my skills up when out in my community supporting my neighbours who are profoundly deaf with bills and shopping.

“I would like to continue my learning in BSL by completing Level 3, which I am currently looking into privately.”

Several colleagues attended the Lancashire Adult Learning Partnership Deaf Awareness and BSL course as part of Deaf Awareness Week.

Natalie Walker, Marketing and Communications Officer, said: “At a recent Big Conversation event at Bridge Court, I met three deaf tenants who taught me how to sign the alphabet. It made me think more about how frustrating it must be to be unable to communicate fully, so I attended the Deaf Awareness session.

Angela Allison, Contract and Service Charge Officer for RWP, said: “It was fun, educational, thought-provoking and empowering while at the same time giving some top tips to communicate effectively and not to be “afraid”. It was also the first time I had played Kahoot (online game-based learning platform), which I think is a great tool for reiterating learning in addition to the quick survey questions.”

Jude Williamson, Equality Diversity Inclusion Business Partner, said: “I signed up for my own personal interest.  My mother has hearing loss, and I wanted to learn more about using hands and face for communication. The course was well delivered, and the tutor peppered the training with snippets of her own lived experience, which brought extra understanding.”

British Sign Language for beginners - Signature

About the author

Progress Housing Group