Deaf Awareness Week

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 ( 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

25 thoughts on “Deaf Awareness Week

  1. This is so wonderful, Charlotte, you are an amazing woman! I love the photo of you, so pretty. God bless your endevours! ❤️

    1. Thank you John, I must admit I prefer performing to an audience rather than the background hard slog of putting shows together, I’ve an increased admiration for producers and directors and the all important fundraisers.

      I have learnt so much from this project, It has enabled me to keep up my singing practice, some of the new courses I’ve done, that I wouldn’t have done without the grant, have been enriching to all aspects of my craft and life. I’ve always enjoyed working with children so that is an added bonus. We had a lot of fun testing out some of my ideas.

      Best wishes

  2. We hired a young woman to do CAD work from us. She speaks softly and barely moves her mouth. I can understand little of what she says. We tell her to speak up, but it if she’s trying to speak louder, it’s not happening. I’m hard of hearing, but I feel deaf talking to her. All good points you make. I love your “Be Happy” photo. Do you know the song “Don’t Worry Be Happy”?

    1. I do know the song, I love it. Mask wearing has been so difficult for people I naturally read lips to help with people like your new assistant. I would suggest telling her you’re hard of hearing but some people then go to the opposite extreme and over pronounce each word, keep persevering perhaps she is shy around people.
      All my best wishes

      1. Several of us have told her we are hard of hearing. I just don’t think it is in her personality to speak loader. I might have to try wearing hearing aids again. When we had a couple of young architect interns with soft high pitched voices, I got hearing aids, which helped me to hear them better. With it being so dry out here, and all the smoke from the fires, I get a lot of pressure on my ears from congestion, and the hearing aids make my ears hurt when I have pressure on my ears. Since our interns moved on I haven’t needed hearing aids as much, until now. We have another young intern starting in June. She has a lower pitched voice and speaks louder so I can hear her. What’s interesting is she is local, so we speak the same dialect. I understand her without really having to listen closely. The CAD person is from Guam.

  3. I studied ASL many years ago and loved the learning experience tremendously. There are still times I am called upon to use what I remember. It is an honor to have SL as a second laugnage! Brava.

    1. I was really in the deep end at one point because I told the class leader I had my BSL exam the following day so she encouraged me to sign without as much support to stretch me. At the moment I have German classes, Romanian using Duolingo and trying to get George to help and BSL, I try to keep up with Italian and French although I’m not fluent in either of them I sing a lot in both languages. I even considered going to sleep listening to language tapes because someone said it sinks in to your subconscious but it wouldn’t be fair to George 😆.
      Best wishes

  4. Charlotte,
    You do not just have a beautiful voice, you are a beautiful person.
    Hmm. So can you write out what/how you would take your project to the next level and introduce it to primary schools?
    If you can write it out, send it to some schools you would go to do this. Ask them if they would be interested in having you present.
    Individual schools might have a guest budget.
    Also, with it written out, and some positive feedback from some schools, you (or someone helping you) could start a “Go Fund Me” page.
    You have a lot of followers. You could raise money.
    I for one could put in a small amount, and would be happy to reblog &/or promote the funding page for you.
    Just an idea!
    Cheers xo

  5. Sounds like you have had a great and enriching experience, not just in this last week but for the entire project. I wish you every success in the next step!

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed your post, Charlotte. You have taken your music and many talents into the realm of better understanding and bettering people’s lives. I am proud of you, and wish there were more people like you. I too, wish you every success as you go forward in life.

  7. Charlotte.
    Another great post , very inspiring and informative.
    A good idea having a go fund me page. I’m sure lots of people would contribute,
    to help you carry on doing what you love.

  8. Excellent. 👏🏻
    BTW, your “awareness” tips could apply to any conversation… Speak one at a time, face the people you’re talking to, don’t cover your mouth, speak out (don’t mumble) but don’t shout… 😉

  9. Many years ago here in Frankfurt, I taught an English course for the blind and my colleague taught a parallel course for the deaf. One evening I went and observed her class, and realized her job was much harder than mine.

  10. Thanks for sharing your work with these primary schools, Charlotte! A very worthy cause indeed. I must draw your attention to the Oscar winning Best Picture of this year, CODA. If you haven’t watched it, it’s a must-see, as it falls right into the subject matter here. CODA stands for Children of Deaf Parents, this is a family relational movie and realistic in its conflicts. It tells the story of a hearing daughter with her own aspiration of being a singer while weighing the duty to stay home to help her parents as she’s the sole sign language interpreter for her deaf parents. I’m sure you’ll love this one.

    1. Thank you Arti I saw it, a very enjoyable film, her father, mother and brother were very strong characters. Whilst she was singing the duet in the first performance on stage and her parents and brother were in the audience I thought why aren’t you signing whilst you’re singing just the main story so I was very pleased to see her sign in her audition when they were watching from the gallery and for her father.
      It was very thought provoking wasn’t it, I made several deaf friends from this experience, they are so independent, one of the girls goes all over the world on her own and is so inspiring, she is also a fabulous actress and the other girl teaches sign.
      Keep the recommendations coming I love your blog for film recommendations, especially the ones I’d miss otherwise.

      Best wishes

      1. I’m glad to hear that you have made friends from doing this project and that they are independent. This movie is fictional, so I guess the writer director has to make the parents more dependent on the daughter to accentuate the conflict she’s struggling with.

        Having said all these about CODA, and while it’s a feel-good movie, I actually don’t think it is Oscar Best Picture calibre. I was rooting for Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog to win and unfortunately Oscar voters loved a lighter flick than an artistically executed film with much nuance and depth by a talented director and that’s Jane Campion’s latest work after a long period of absence from filmmaking. Do check it out if you haven’t watched it. I rated it 4 Ripples in my review. 🙂

      2. I shall put that on my film viewing list. Thanks Arti.

  11. So wonderful, Charlotte, that you are helping the people to a better life. Your steps in how to talk to a deaf person is something that applies to us that are hard of hearing also. People must understand that volume is not necessary as much as clarity and speaking directly to person’s lips.

  12. Charlotte, We all have a disability of one sort or other. Whether it be physical, mental or spiritual. They are but stumbling blocks along the way. They can be either excuses or motivators. It is up to us. In your case you used wisdom instead of self-pity to motivate you to becoming a great singer and entertainer. And your gift so nurtured has brought joy and inspiration to others who unbeknownst to you has made all the difference in many lives. All for the better.

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