My name is Hannah and I work in a theatre. I'd been interested in learning sign language for a while which stemmed from those occasions at work where I felt unable to communicate with a customer because they are deaf. A lot of them would be accompanied by hearing carers who would translate what I was saying into sign language for the customer to understand, the customer would sign the response back to their carer who would then say it to me. This lengthy exchange got me thinking - what if I was able to communicate directly with the customer rather than through someone else? We also sometimes have signed performances whereby an interpreter would stand at the side of the stage in a spotlight, making theatre accessible to those who may not previously have been able to enjoy it. Whilst at work I would watch these interpreters and what they were doing would be mostly meaningless to me, and it made me more determined to learn so that I would be able to follow at least some of what they were signing.
So, after all the theatres shut down and the country was put into lockdown I thought, what better opportunity than now to take a sign language course? I finished it a few days ago and I can confidently say it was one of the best decisions I've made. It took me around a month to complete a level 1 course, and having done so successfully, when I can eventually return to work I will feel much more confident when I am communicating with a deaf customer who uses sign language and I know that I will also be able to make some sense of the interpreters during signed performances. Not only was using this time to learn a new skill great for me personally, knowing I can apply it to my job makes it all the more worthwhile. I absolutely loved making my way through the lessons, learning the signs and challenging myself to put phrases together and I certainly felt a sense of fulfilment when I got my certificate!