From education to employment

Learning goes beyond the classroom

The Leeds Society for Deaf and Blind People has announced a new initiative to encourage more widespread learning of British Sign Language (BSL).

The society is running weekly conversation classes to enable those of all signing abilities to interact socially in a relaxed environment. The informal environment will allow learners to practice their conversation in a natural way, and so develop their skills beyond classroom learning.

The teaching of BSL is very often classroom based, with many learners having little opportunity to practice their signs in between lessons. Formal learning means the language often doesn”t come naturally, and without the opportunity of genuine interaction, those learning BSL can struggle in a social environment.

Giving learners the opportunity to converse in BSL with both deaf and hearing people will not only enable their language skills to improve significantly, but will also create a significant means of social interaction.

The new programme demonstrates the society’s commitment both to helping increase accessibility for those who use BSL, as well as educating the wider community.

Steven Conlon, Business Development Manager for Leeds Society for Deaf and Blind People commented “When learning French or Italian, a conversation class would be vital in ensuring your language skills were up to scratch. With BSL it’s no different, and so these classes should provide learners with a great deal of confidence to help them interact with BSL users on a day to day basis.”

Leeds Society for Deaf and Blind People also run a range of other courses, encompassing British Sign Language Levels 1 to 3 and Sensory Awareness, which aims to teach of the importance of communication with those with a range of sensory losses.

Level 3 is a new addition to the society’s portfolio of courses, and will enable learners to reach an advanced level of BSL competence. As well as focusing on the language, the certificate also requires learners to learn about deaf issues and the deaf community, as well as maintaining regular contact with deaf people. This allows learners to immerse themselves within deaf culture, bridging the gap between communities within Leeds.

Keisha Nelson

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