27th November 2019
In response to a request from students wanting to learn British Sign Language (BSL) as an Xtra-curricular enrichment activity, media student Jack Bevan is teaching a group of York College students to communicate with the deaf.
In the first session Jack showed students how to sign the letters of alphabet and how to sign their own names. He taught common words such as ‘hello’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, moving onto asking questions (who?, what?, where?, when? and which?). Jack pointed out that using facial expressions during signing is an important aid to communication.
Jack says: “I was born deaf and I’m pleased to pass on BSL skills to as many people as I can. I think it is important to be taught by someone who is non-verbal - it forces people to use signing to communicate, rather than the spoken word. Having the opportunity to teach fellow students is also helping me to develop my own skills. I am enjoying the challenge and I hope students start to use BSL to communicate more effectively with people around the College, and in their everyday lives.”
At the start of the academic year, A Level student Charlie McNamara attended the College’s Fresher’s Fair and requested that an Xtra-curricular BSL group be set up. She says: “I’m really pleased the College has got this off the ground as I think it is such an important skill to have. When I was young I struggled to hear in one ear and was told it could develop into deafness, which got me thinking that if I had become deaf I would have wanted people to be able use BSL to communicate with me.”
Lucy Arnill also showed an interest in at a Student Rep meeting and explains: “As a child, for a few months, I was mute, and I made up my own sign language. I know how it important it is to be able to make friends and if you can use sign language it can take away the communication barrier.”
Student Charlie Finn, who is registered deaf, adds: “It is great that my friends and I can find a way of communicating, especially in loud situations. I have support at College with my studies but at times I find people don’t have the patience to be able to communicate with me effectively.”
Ingrid Kellock, Student Development Manager explains: “It’s really important that we value and respond to students’ needs and this club is mutually beneficial for the attendees and the facilitator, Jack. It’s a brilliant life skill to have as it opens up the way you look at the world and the more students learn BSL through education and their peers, the more access hearing and non-hearing students will have to wider society. It’s incredibly encouraging to see students enjoying themselves and developing confidence when communicating.”