I celebrated Deaf Awareness week (2-8 May) by connecting with a primary school, studying British Sign Language, and discovering new information about deafness and deaf culture online.
On Wednesday, I visited Frank Barnes Primary School in King’s Cross, London. This primary school specialises in educating deaf children and supporting their development into independent and confident learners. Pupils from Frank Barnes collaborated with a hearing school called King’s Cross Academy for a performance at Granary Square. Together they performed two songs. I enjoyed their version of “Any Dream Will Do”; all the children learned a BSL translation, and the King’s Cross Academy shared their voices. It was very joyous and heart-warming to watch. A smaller group of pupils from Frank Barnes primary school also performed a BSL poem, which they had written; it focused on inclusion and the desire to make new friends. After the performance, I had the privilege of leading two music lessons at Frank Barnes Primary School. It was brilliant to put my BSL knowledge into practice and explore how to engage the children in musical activities effectively.
In my British Sign Language lessons, I am studying how to describe what my friends and family look like, my favourite meals, pets, objects in the home, modes of transport, using numbers, weather, interests, and hobbies. Learning about BSL grammar and structure is fascinating and, like any language, a little mind-boggling at times. If you want to learn some BSL basics, I highly recommend this introductory online course created by “British-Sign”. Online British Sign Language Course – Learn BSL Today (British-sign.co.uk) The course gives you access to 10 lessons over two years and an opportunity to gain a CPD accredited certificate. The course has a minimum contribution of £3 to enrol, making it accessible to learn and gain confidence in a new language which may lead to you communicating with someone who uses BSL as their primary language—improving our overall community.
To finish, here are some deaf awareness tips that I think are helpful to know.
- Face the person while you are speaking, don’t look away.
- Make sure you have the deaf person’s attention before you start speaking.
- Try not to cover your mouth when talking.
- In a group context, speak one at a time and don’t talk over each other.
- Speak clearly without shouting.
- If you have not been understood, don’t give up – get creative! Perhaps write down what you are trying to say or draw a picture.
My project funded by Arts Council England is nearing the end and I have learned so much from my experiences, which were made possible through their grant. I hope now to take my project to next level and introduce it to primary schools, bringing together children of all abilities in a fun and educational way. I just have to raise the funds so if any of you have any ideas about which grants, I could apply for to make this happen I would love to hear from you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.