Sign Language Week 2024

Watson Moore took part in the British Deaf Association’s Sign Language Week 2024, running from 18th to 22nd March this year. The British Deaf Association (or BDA for short) was founded in 1890 to help advance and protect Deaf people’s rights and campaign for equal access for Deaf people on a national level. Part of this includes promoting British Sign Language and this year they reached out to companies, asking them to engage with Sign Language Week for the first time.

Watson Moore decided to take part for several reasons. One big reason being that Daniel Watts (one of our Directors) has been learning British Sign Language (BSL) for five years and is a passionate supporter of the Deaf Community. “Through learning BSL, I have met many members of the Deaf Community and finding out about their, often daily, struggles to gain access to the simplest of services has come as quite a shock. I want to make sure that we are doing our part here at Watson Moore to raise awareness and improve things going forward” Dan explains.

Sign Language Week here at Watson Moore included several events throughout the week, detailed below:

  • MONDAY – Team Meeting on the History of Sign Language
  • TUESDAY – “Go Blue for BSL” Dress Down Day
  • THURSDAY – Company BSL Lesson (hosted by the BDA and celebrity chef Yvonne Cobb)
  • FRIDAY – Screening of Deaf game show “Sign2Win”

“I really enjoyed the team meeting on Monday,” explains Mella, “Dan talked us through some of the key events in the history of Sign Language and we all left the meeting with a much better awareness of Deaf issues. For instance, did you know the difference between the terms ‘deaf’ and ‘Deaf’?”

Team members discovered that in Deaf culture, the term ’deaf’ with a small ‘d’ refers to the medical diagnosis of being deaf or having hearing loss. ‘Deaf’ with a capital ‘D’ however refers to those who are proud members of the Deaf community, who celebrate their hearing loss, Deaf history and Deaf culture (which includes having their own celebrities, poets, comedians, athletes and TV personalities).

We then took part in the BDA ‘Go Blue for BSL’ campaign with a Dress Down Day. “There was one rule, you must wear something blue. Some of my colleagues pushed the definition of blue to the max in my opinion. Who knew a navy suit and a white shirt would count!” jokes Abi.

“The BSL class on Thursday was fantastic,” explains Josef, “I recognised Yvonne Cobb from her appearances on ITV’s This Morning and she did a terrific job over the hour we were with her via Zoom. She explained some of the considerations in sign language and then taught us the days of the week in sign, family signs and some work-related signs. I’m seriously considering booking a BSL Level 1 course and starting to learn the language myself.”

There were over 320 different companies on the BSL class with us on the Thursday and the BDA reported they had been overwhelmed with the number of companies wanting to take part, which was great to see.

Finally, we held a screening of the popular Deaf game show “Sign2Win” on Friday. Team members brought their lunches and cups of tea, before watching an episode the show. The show takes three pairs of contestants through 3 separate challenges, before the top two teams battle it out for a grand prize of £1,000. Of course, each game is heavily-linked with BSL and Deaf history and culture, testing contestants knowledge and signing abilities.

“On the episode we watched, one pair of contestants were teachers at a Deaf school, teaching students BSL. Thankfully they went on to win and said they were filled with relief… saying that their jobs were safe for a bit longer!” says Dan.

Given the feedback we’ve received from colleagues, it’s fair to say everyone enjoyed the weeks activities and everything they learned. Watson Moore will also be running some Deaf Awareness Training with staff later this year, which will focus more on the lives of Deaf people and the things we can do to be more inclusive and make our services more accessible.

Daniel Watts has passed his Level 1 and Level 2 BSL exams and is currently sitting Level 3, with exams this summer. Once qualified, he plans to offer meetings with Deaf clients using sign language and Watson Moore is looking at ways to engage with local charities and schools to offer financial education for deaf children in the future. (No pressure on those BSL exams then Dan!)

Our “Go Blue for BSL” Day

Joining the BDA’s BSL Class on Thursday

Celebrity Chef Yvonne Cobb teaching at the BSL Class

Screening the Deaf gameshow ‘Sign2Win’ on Friday