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National BSL Day USE

York College Deaf Club launched for National BSL Day

YORK College & University Centre have launched a new Deaf Club to celebrate National BSL Day.

The club are planning to meet once a month on campus and it is open to anybody from the deaf community in York and the city’s surrounding areas.

It will provide an opportunity for members to chat with other deaf people and enjoy activities such as a chess club, movie night and quiz night.

Guest speakers will also be invited, and it is hoped there will be opportunities to play sports such as football and tennis.

As part of today’s BSL Day celebrations, BSL and Communication Learning Support Specialist David Bradley and BSL tutor Cheryl McBride were both raising awareness in the Atrium about the courses we run and you can learn more about them here

Today marks exactly a year since the British Sign Language Act was passed in Parliament and this April 28th is, therefore, the first National BSL Day.

Archbishop and David Bradley 2
David Bradley interpreting the Archbishop of York during last week's visit to York College & University Centre

That legal status ensured that all service providers must now offer accessibility to BSL rather than responding to a need.

The bill gained significant public support when former EastEnders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis – a BSL user who has been deaf since birth – won Strictly Come Dancing in 2021.

Her victory also sparked a rise in the number of people searching for BSL courses online and attending classes, which has been mirrored in the College.

The hope is that the number of BSL users in the UK – which currently stands at 21,000 and represents just 0.04% of the population – will continue to climb rapidly too.

David has been supporting deaf students at College for 20 years and also ensures any BSL users who are studying here are fully supported on their courses, in the classroom and during lectures.

He first studied BSL to communicate better with people around him in the late 1990s before it led to a change in career.

“I worked in retail and didn’t have any deaf family members or know anybody that was deaf, but I had returned to adult education and enjoyed that environment,” David recalled. “Then, when I was working in a shop, I had a customer that became a friend who was profoundly deaf and I felt it was me that didn’t have the skills to communicate with him.

“I was also teaching swimming at the time and the daughter of the teacher that was doing the class was in my swimming club, so it all just fell together really. I went along and fell in love with it.”

Cheryl, who is a first-language BSL user, teaches three classes a week at the College.

For more information on the Deaf Club or any other questions about York College & University Centre’s BSL courses, please email David at dbradley@yorkcollege.ac.uk or Cheryl at cmcbride@yorkcollege.ac.uk

Membership of the York College Deaf Club is free and you can join here