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South & City College celebrates Sign Language Week!

South & City College Birmingham recently celebrated Sign Language Week, which took place between the 14th – 20th March 2022. This year’s theme chosen by the British Deaf Association (BDA) was “BSL Brings Us Together.” 

Promoting inclusivity and accessibility is high on the agenda for South & City College, as we continue to work with our students, staff and local community partners to improve the college itself. As part of the College’s long-term goal and plan to help improve accessibility and communication, our Marketing team recently teamed up with Sophie Johnson, who is currently studying her A-Levels with the college, to help educate others on the importance of sign language. 

Sophie is an online social media content creator and sign language advocate. With more than 1.5K followers, Sophie shares her personal experiences of being deaf with her audience. Using her social media platforms, she educates her followers on learning basic signs, how to communicate with someone who is deaf, and raises awareness of the challenges that come with being deaf. 

Across the week, Sophie has allowed us to share some of the videos she has created – helping us to better understand the importance of sign language and what we can do as an educational institution to make South & City College better for our learners, staff and visitors. 

It is estimated that around 150,000 people use British Sign Language daily, and of these, up to 87,000 use BSL as their preffered first language. As a college, we are proud to be able to have specialist teaching staff and our Additional Learning Support staff trained in sign language support. Additionally, they are trained to help students who may have visual impairments, hearing impairments, or need additional support when communicating. 

Although Sign Language Week is just one week, we are committed to continuously improving our communication channels to become more accessible in the content we produce and how we distribute this content. Ways in which we are currently working on growing our accessible content are:

  • Introducing subtitles into all our video content
  • Including alt-text in our new South & City College website so that those who need an e-translator can better understand our pages
  • Introducing Recite Me, an online software that offers an inclusive experience online by providing accessibility and language options to enable everyone to customise our website in a way that works for them
  • Cutting back on the amount of text we feature in our images across our social media platforms
  • Working collaboratively with staff and students to promote sign language across our platform and training others around us in basic sign language skills. 

The pathway to better and more accessible communication is a long one that we all need to be committed to – not just so that our college can become better, but so that our learners who need sign language to communicate can feel heard and seen. 

Want to learn sign language but do not know where to start? Why not explore the Sign Language Week website for access to free daily lessons on the basics of sign language. 

A massive thank you to Sophie, who has helped trailblaze the pathway for better communication and accessibility across our digital platforms. We wish you the very best of luck with the rest of your studies and can’t wait to see what you accomplish in the future. 

If you would like to follow Sophie for more content on sign language, be sure to check out her TikTok account: @sophiesdeafass