Staff and students at Bangor University are queueing up to join Sign Language courses provided at the University.
Through the University’s Widening Access Centre, the decision was made to provide a number of Deaf Awareness and 10 week Introduction to Sign language courses to staff and students.
“One way of counteracting any possible discrimination felt by the estimated 254,000 deaf people in the UK is to ensure that as many barriers as possible are removed for them. Providing access to training for our own staff and students is one small step that we can make to this end,” says Widening Access Centre head, Delyth Murphy. She adds: “We thought we’d assess the level of interest among the University community- we didn’t expect the courses to be full in under an hour of sending an e mail invitation to staff and students though!”
The second ten week course for students came to an end recently, with the next courses for staff and students being arranged for the next academic year in September.
Run in conjunction with Coleg Llandrillo Menai, where the Deaf Studies Department has been at the forefront of the delivery of British Sign Language locally, the courses provide valuable skills to University staff and are an extra skill to students, many who want to progress in education or caring careers or at the interface with the public, where such additional skills will be valued.
One of the students on the course was Amy Crowther from Corbridge, Northumberland. Amy is studying BA Childhood Studies in her second year. She says: “I hope to go into speech and language after my degree and this is one of the reasons I decided to take the BSL course as it will be a key skill to have in this career path. I have really enjoyed this 10 week course and hope to complete the level 1 course next year when I return to my studies.”
Harriet Moran, a 3rd year Biomedical Science student from Warrington also joined the course. She says: “I chose to study BSL as I’ve wanted to be able to sign for the past 6 or 7 years as it’s a useful language to have in order to create a more inclusive environment. I have loved the course & enjoyed attending each week. I think doing the course has helped me better understand how BSL is used as a language and has given me the confidence to use the sign language I have learnt with people I know, as well as making me more enthusiastic to continue to learn BSL to a higher level.”
Karla Pelling from Newcastle is in her second year studying Psychology with Child and Language Development (BSc). She says: “I decided to learn BSL because I am a Brownie Leader (Girl Guiding) and I want to be able to let any child that wants to join my unit to join. In the future I hope to be a Primary School Teacher. I currently volunteer at a school back home and one of the children is deaf, so it is already helping. The course was very enjoyable. We learnt a lot in a very short space of time, as Alan was a very good teacher and was very patient when if we did not get things right the first time. I hope I can put the course to good use and would like to be fluent one day.”
Karla recommends that anyone given the opportunity to learn BSL should take the opportunity. She adds: “It is a really good thing to learn and it opens your eyes to the life of someone else. You never know when you might need it, so it is always best to have it if you can.”
Alan Leslie Hale, who taught the latest course to Bangor’s students said: “I’m happy that the University are working with Coleg Llandrillo as we have highly qualified tutors. I have enjoyed teaching at Bangor University. It’s really excellent to see so many people are interested in learning Sign Language. They have been brilliant and are very quick learners!