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Hi everyone! 

I am a non-native English speaker, but I moved to the UK when I was 16 and spent my formative years here. I had my first encounter with BSL back in 2015 when I did a free internship at a non-profit that specialised in connecting BSL interpreters with those who needed their assistance. 

I currently work for the University of London, and for the first time in my life I have a couple of deaf colleagues. I looked back at my university experience and decided to pick up BSL. Although my colleagues use hearing aids and don't need me to sign to communicate, I thought it would be nice to have the option to do so. 

Also as a bilingual person, I can understand how challenging communication can be when you mishear things. I've always relied very heavily on facial expressions, especially in my early years in the UK when I didn't know every word Brits used or every slang word, and especially when I befriended people with stronger accents. I think everyone in my family has relatively weak hearing: I noticed struggling to understand colleagues speaking even my native language if they spoke too quietly or while turned away from me. During the pandemic I struggled to understand the people around me, especially if they wore a mask and spoke quietly, since I couldn't rely on their facial expression and fill in the blanks by guessing what they'd said. 

Another reason to pick up BSL is my job. I am a content officer, and a big part of my role specifically is filming videos. Now, when we're on set and recording an interview, I sometimes have to communicate with my colleagues without making a sound - telling them to move the camera, check the focus, reframe the shot etc. I hope to teach them some signs one day so we can do this efficiently and improve our filming on the spot without having to interrupt the speaker on camera. 

I think BSL would be great to learn for anyone who has to work in a loud environment or can't make a noise but has to communicate nevertheless. I wish I'd started learning it a bit sooner, but then again, I'm not sure it would have helped if the shop assistants and people outside of Deaf community didn't understand me. 

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