Students and staff having coffee and learning British Sign Language
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BSL students and teachers celebrate Deaf Awareness Week with coffee morning

City of Bristol College celebrated Deaf Awareness Week with a lively coffee morning at our College Green Centre, at which past and present British Sign Language (BSL) students got the opportunity to catch up and share experiences of being in the Deaf community.

Becky Dark, Transition and Progression Mentor for Deaf students, said “We all had a great time at the Deaf Awareness Week coffee morning. Due to the way we work we don’t often have the chance to all get together. It created a fantastic opportunity for current D/deaf students to see how these students are getting on now they have left college.”

The coffee morning also gave our students an opportunity to teach staff and fellow students some basic BSL.

Marketing Assistant Katie Schlechter said “I really enjoyed learning how to introduce myself in BSL. I grew up in the United States, and learned a bit of American Sign Language as a child, but it’s completely different from British Sign Language!

Former student James White was excited to tell everyone about his new job working in the kitchen at a care home in Kingswood. He said “I miss college and my Communication Support Workers (CSWs). It’s really nice to see them and meet up with other deaf people.”

Daijon King, another former student who joined in for coffee and biscuits, shared his news of landing a paid administrative apprenticeship at Bristol City Council. He said “It was good to come back to college to see the CSWs and to meet the students who are there now.”

The coffee morning came at the right time for celebration, as a bill recognising British Sign Language as an official language in England, Scotland and Wales passed its final reading in the House of Lords on April 27.

According to the British Deaf Association, some 151,000 people use BSL in the UK, of whom 87,000 are D/deaf. Once the bill becomes law, government departments will be legally required to demonstrate how they are promoting or facilitating the use of British Sign Language in its communications with the public.

The British Sign Language Club meets every Thursday at College Green (Room 5W.03) from 12:50-1:20pm. Staff and students are invited to come along to learn some basic greetings and how to fingerspell your name!

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