Jason Sharpe: 10 ways BSL users could have a bigger presence in the mainstream in 2015 (BSL)

Posted on January 6, 2015

I’m Jason Sharpe. I’m looking back at 2014 and there are a few things that I’ve noticed during the year that I wasn’t satisfied with.

There’s quite a lot of information that I wanted to share so I thought I thought I would do an article for Limping Chicken!

The things I want to talk about is how weak the representation of Deaf people is in the mainstream world. I mean things like in newspapers, TV or on radio. Here are 10 examples of what I mean.

To watch Jason’s article in BSL, press play below. Scroll down below to read in in English.

1. Deaf media

Hearing people have got plenty of presence on media, like on radio and TV, billboard posters and they are able to exercise a lot of power that way.

But in the Deaf world, there is media but its quite separate and really directed at the sign language community. Hearing people can’t find out about our community.

2. Open days

Recently I went to a Deaf open day and it was full of deaf people singing. There was loads of stalls there advertising things like deaf awareness courses and BSL courses. Stalls about all sorts of things.

It made me think that maybe hearing people want to sign – maybe if they went along to that kind of open day that would have a really big impact, they would feel very nervous and think that they wanted to leave because they would feel completely out of their depth.

Really, we should take those stalls into the hearing world so hearing people can meet the Deaf people behind the stalls and find out more, even just by grabbing a pen and paper to communicate if necessary.

The experience might just be all they need to go and learn BSL level 1 or 2.

3. Radio

The radio is a really powerful way of getting information out there for hearing people. Can Deaf people get involved in that too? Well, yes they can!

Deaf people through an interpreter can go on the radio too. Deaf people could use interpreters who have excellent radio voices and really get across well what the Deaf person wants to say.

People driving about or at home cooking in the kitchen would hear the view of Deaf people on the radio just like anyone else. Deaf people should have their views reflected on the radio too.

4. Newspapers

When I go to the newsagent – I have a flick through the paper and can’t help but notice that all the adverts seem to be aimed at hearing people and have pictures of hearing people in them.

There are no adverts aimed at the Deaf community – and there should be!

5. Billboards

I was on a double decker bus and it was full of hearing people on one side but the other side had a lot of spare seats. There I sat with the trees whizzing past the window – minding my own business and the bus came to a stop.

Plenty of people got off and I couldn’t help but notice a huge billboard advert on the wall. It was strange to me to think that all these people looking at the sign were so interested in it when they got off the bus.

It was a Coke advert and aimed, I think, at hearing people. I think there should be huge adverts talking about Deaf people – so everyone can look and learn about us too.

6. Shops

In a shop – I noticed how hearing people are always approached by hearing staff asking if they want help with anything.

I realise that it’s their job and they have to make sure they help customers and sell things but surely the same applies to Deaf customers like me!

7. Through interpreters

Interpreters are fantastic! They are well trained and keep in touch with Deaf people so we know how to book them. They’re brilliant!

I think they might get more business if they marketed themselves to all sort of business and not just focus on the Deaf world. The interpreters could let the businesses know that if they have Deaf customers they can get an interpreter and let them know what to do.

8. In work

I was walking in town among all the hearing people – and I saw this one chap working for NDCS, the charity for Deaf children.

We made eye contact so he thought I was interested in what he was giving out so he came over. I asked him if he could sign – he said no and walked off!

I thought that maybe a Deaf person should be in that job. I know what you’re thinking – how can a deaf person do that job?

Well, they can use Access to Work to get an interpreter or use a note pad and pen – it would make sense to use Deaf people to show good Deaf role models. I really think they should.

9. Spit the Dummy Campaign

Many of you know that I’ve been working with the Spit the Dummy and Campaign for BSL Act group for a while now.

One thing I find is that when we’re trying to get stories into the media, like in newspapers or TV, people always ask us what does ‘Spit the Dummy’ mean? It’s the same as other things that I have to explain – and my English is not clear.

So we’re thinking about changing the wording of the campaign – the background will be the same – but changing the words to make the English a bit clearer- take a look!

It says ‘Campaign for BSL Act. Spit the dummy, NOW!’

STDC logo

Its clearer and we want to use it to show to news reporters in clear English what it’s all about. We want to see it used in newspapers and get through to hearing people what our aims are. Hopefully we’ll see the change from January 2015.

10. Get out there everyone!

So I have had 10 points which I think are all really important.

The thing is that the Deaf world is very small and all the marketing and discussion we do shouldn’t be just directed at ourselves – it should be directed at the hearing world so people in the mainstream get a better understanding of what BSL is and start spreading the message.

In 2015 we must become more powerful and get our message out in newspapers, radio or TV by any means and then keep it up, hopefully!

Come on we can do it this year!

Jason Sharpe is part of the admin team for the Spit the Dummy and Campaign for BSL Act. He comes from Peterborough, is the former chairman of the deaf club and is organising his own campaign to improve services for BSL users in Peterborough.

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