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Student award winner praises ‘unsung hero’ BSL lecturer

An A&E nurse has furthered his understanding of British Sign Language and praised the support of his ‘inspirational’ teacher.

Peter James, aged 58, joined the British Sign Language Level 1 course at our College Green Centre as he wanted to study ‘something worthwhile’ and City of Bristol College was the ‘obvious choice’.

The Bristol-born Emergency Nurse Practitioner works in a busy Accident and Emergency department of a local hospital and joined the College after noticing he was losing his hearing.

He said: “I am very aware that deaf people suffer inequalities at all levels of society including healthcare. I wanted to make ours a flagship department for deaf people to prove that it can be done.”

The nurse praised his remarkable lecturer, Louise Pocock, who leads on the British Sign Language (BSL) course and is deaf herself. He added: “Louise is an inspirational unsung hero of the deaf community.”

Peter was nominated and later presented with the award for Contribution to the Community During the Covid-19 Pandemic – Adults at the Student Awards 2020/21.

In the nomination, his lecturer Louise said: “After being unable to complete the course owing to the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Peter returned to complete his qualification this academic year. He has been able to put his BSL to practice in his workplace when he reassured a deaf patient during a very stressful time.”

When accepting his award, Peter said: “Receiving this award is amazing and learning BSL at the College has allowed me to open doors for deaf people. I have been able to go back to management with my award and thank them for the investment they made to my learning and say ‘this is what I have done with it and now we can move forward and create better tomorrows for deaf people’, that is what we do in A&E every day!”

Last week, we celebrated National Sign Language Week with a lunchtime class in the food hall where students could learn how to introduce themselves and spell their name.

In a bid to further our inclusivity, we have also put up welcome banners in each reception of our Centres which feature more than 70 languages, including BSL, to welcome guests on-site.

You can find out about our British Sign Language courses or discover what support is available on-site if you are deaf or blind.

Want to start your learning? Find out more about British Sign Language’s importance to the Bristol Community and learn some easy phrases here.

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