Jump to content

Why am I learning BSL? so this never happens again...


Recommended Posts

I've had a couple of personal experiences that have brought me here.  After leaving school I worked as a teller in the local branch of a building society and one of the first customers I served was deaf.  They had some issue they needed resolving but the communication barrier meant neither I or anyone else in the branch could help him.  He got upset and very very angry.  He shouted incomprehensibly in my face and was signing frantically.  I actually thought he was going to get violent but things eventually calmed down and he left, his issue still unresolved.  Some of the staff were visibly upset by the incident.  I was too - but not upset for myself.  I was upset for him. I could only imagine the frustration he must have felt and how isolating the world must have been for him.  I took it upon myself at the time to learn at least something in BSL, no official courses, just a few things I picked up of the internet.  I learned how to fingerspell, some numbers, and and some basic greetings (hello/goodbye/please/thankyou) and practiced them in a mirror for weeks and weeks in the hope that if such an event ever happened again there would be someway I could help, even if I had to spell out every letter of the conversation.
A few years later I was doing a carboot sale and I saw the same man approaching my stall.  I don't think he recognised me and I continued to chat away to my wife as he browsed the items on my table.  When he picked up an item I was so nervous that our interaction would end the same way it had previously.  He asked my wife 'How much?' but she did not understand his speech just like I hadn't in our previous encounter.  Thankfully I had grasped what he had asked and was able to sign 'hello'. and '15' as I pointed to the item he was holding. (i can't recall what the item was now). He looked somewhat taken aback - he was expecting that.  His face lit up.
'8?' he signed back.  I was picking up on his facial expressions.
'12' I signed back.  I couldn't believe this.  I was now haggling in a language I'd never even used before.
'10' he signed back (I think - I wasn't sure on that one) but at this point I was so elated that I'd been able to make that connection with him that he could've taken that item for nothing and I wouldn't have cared.  I shook his hand on 10 and then as he handed over the cash and tucked the item under his arm I signed 'B-A-G'.  he gave me a thumbs up and I passed him a carrier bag for his purchase.  We exchanged a final sign of 'Thank you' followed by goodbye and I never saw him again.
Despite having to spend the rest of the day explaining to my wfie how and why I was able to have a conversation in sign language I was so immensely pleased with myself for what I had done.
So reason I'm now on here is because with the global pandemic and everyone wearing masks I imagine the world has become far more isolating for the Deaf.  It makes me think and feel how I did when that man left my branch all those years ago.  If I can do something to help that then I'll try me best to do it becuase when he slammed that door after our first encounter I never thought 'that went badly because he was deaf'  I thought 'that went badly because I can't sign'.  and I'm going to change that.

 

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

Well done you!  I agree, the wearing of masks is increasingly isolating - Partially deaf myself, I rely heavily on lip reading and have tended to shy away from communicating with people as a result of masks.  If everyone had a modicum of sign language, think how daily interaction would be massively improved during social distancing and face masking!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Latest Posts

    • I'm the wrong side of 65, and it's a challenge - but who doesn't like a challenge? My hearing is steadily getting much worse, particularly in my left ear, where I also have quite severe tinnitus. I didn't realise how much I was reliant on facial expressions and some form of basic, unconcious lip reading, until widespread mask-wearing made it obvious to me, and I became very isolated. Although at my age I'll never become fluent in BSL, a little knowledge and some skill will be better than nothing. I volunteer on the canal network - something I really enjoy - and it's somewhere BSL may well come in useful at some point.  So, for me it's a combination of the challenge, the hope of greater inclusion, and the potential practical application.
    • Hi - I'm Mike in Leicester. Completely new to this!
    • I'm not deaf or hard of hearing, but I'm a secondary school teacher with a number of children with varying hearing difficulties, and a father who wears hearing aids. I figure that as well as being fascinating to learn (I love learning new things), it's a skill that could be really beneficial to me too.
    • I'm training to become a GB sub officer and feel that learning bsl will help my company to be more inclusive to children with hearing difficulties 
    • I'm new to signing and can't quite figure it out !!! 
    • Hello my My name is Joline I'm 42 years old. I'm several hard of hearing and wear hearing aids. Im on the waiting list for the Cochlear Implants. I've been hard of hearing since a young girl and I'm learning to sign now to be able to communicate with my children and others as over the years my hearing has deteriorated and without out my hearing aids I'm in silence  Thank you for reading 
    • Hi Martin You are not alone! Have you had any signing experience before? If not, have you found BSL to have helped you communicate? Wen 
    • Hi Megan I know it's been a few days since you posted this but I am 24 and took up BSL after learning more about the Deaf community thanks to Rose, and would be more than happy to talk with you? Thanks   Wen 
  • Fingerspelling Scoreboard

    (top 10 - past 24hrs)

  • Fingerspelling Animation Maker

×
×
  • Create New...