Students celebrate learning to sign

News Page 5th June 2019

A group of 19 students from the University of Northampton’s Faculty of Education and Humanities and Faculty of Health and Society have been awarded their British Sign Language, level one certificates at a celebration event this week.

The British Sign Language (BSL) programme has been developed between the University and Deafconnect, which is now entering its fifth year, gives students the opportunity to learn, and get a qualification in, BSL to boost communication skills with the deaf community of Northamptonshire. The course has been designed to get students up to speed with conversational BSL, enabling them to have everyday conversations in BSL, as well giving and follow simple directions or instructions related to their area of academic study.

Speaking at the event, Dr Helen Scott, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Humanities said: “Congratulation’s to all who have taken part this year. It is a fantastic achievement for these students, and their skills will be invaluable to the deaf community as they continue on to careers within education, health and social care, it is great to know our students are able to make a difference for the deaf community.”

Cath Kenny, Senior Lecturer, in Occupational Therapy at the University of Northampton said: “Congratulations to everyone who passed the course this year, “]Joanna Steer, CEO of DeafConnect and the BSL tutor Sue Grantham presented the certificates and congratulated the them on their motivation and commitment to the course.”

“This is just part of the way the University is working with the deaf community to encourage and enable communication. The BSL qualification will improve the way our students communicate with deaf people in the community whether at work or at social events or during their placements as part of their courses in organisations around Northamptonshire. The students will now get involved in 40 hours of volunteering with the local deaf community.”

Second year Childhood and Youth student, Zoe Roff, said: “I was inspired to take the BSL course after I found a mobile phone and tried to return it to its owner. The phone belonged to a deaf person, and we really struggled to communicate accurately; that inspired me to find a course in BSL, so I could confidently communicate in the future.

“Since I started learning to sign, I’ve also tried it on placement in a special school, to communication with autistic children. I think being able to give people the opportunity communicate effectively is so powerful. I’m so thankful for this opportunity from the University.”

Applications are now open for students entering their second year in September/October 2019 within the Faculty of Education and Humanities and the Faculty of Health and Society. Places are limited, expressions of interest can be emailed to The closing date is 16 August 2019 at noon.

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