Deaf News: Signature pitches BSL GCSE to Richard Branson

Posted on May 2, 2015

Deaf charity Signature have entered a competition to pitch their campaign for a GCSE qualification in British Sign Language to Virgin Media.

The new competition, entitled Pitch to Rich, invites businesses with new and exciting ideas to pitch them to Sir Richard Branson – with the chance of winning a £250,000 campaign alongside many other prizes.

“Launching a business can be challenging and, at times, overwhelming. But entrepreneurs shouldn’t let this hold them back from achieving their full potential.” said Branson.

“Pitch to Rich is a brilliant opportunity for UK businesses to make their mark on a global stage.” he added.

As one of the leading charities for teaching British Sign Language, Signature currently offers sign language courses from Level 1 to Level 6. Now, in their latest campaign, the charity plans to introduce a GCSE qualification in BSL.

Signature began work on the qualification at the start of 2015, when the charity recruited a select GCSE working group. The group are currently working on the specification content for the qualification and aim to complete a draft by July.

Signature hope that the funding will aid them in creating and piloting the qualification in September 2015, with the idea that it will lead to “more people taking our qualifications, more interpreters and deaf awareness”.

For the deaf community, the teaching of BSL in schools has always been campaigned for by numerous deaf charities and supported by deaf people from across the UK as it promotes deaf awareness and aids communication between deaf and hearing people.

In particular, questions have been raised over recent years by the deaf community about why both deaf and hearing people cannot study for British Sign Language qualifications alongside Modern Foreign Languages (MFL). Now, a GCSE in BSL will be another language course taught by secondary schools alongside French, Spanish, German and Latin.

Since the idea was first entered into the competition, the campaign to create a GCSE in British Sign Language has reached over 1,700 votes on the site.

But Signature’s pitch is not the only campaign which involves deaf people. Braci Ltd. is a start-up business which aims to “[help] deaf and elderly people to get alerted in case of emergencies such as Fire alarm, Thief Alarm, Doorbells and more”.

The business aims to do this through “a unique algorithm for smartphones, which detects a wide range of sounds such as smoke alarms doorbells, baby [sic] crying, car horns and more.”

Alongside this, Performance for All Ltd. is pitching a mobile app to aid with the teaching of sport specific words, with “video representation, sign language and subtitles to meet the needs of all learners”.

Members of the public have until the 5th May to vote. The top 150 pitches will then form a shortlist before the 30 semi-finalists are announced on the 19th May. At this point, public voting will re-open to create the nine finalists. On the 2nd June, voting will close for the final time as the finalists are announced. The nine finalists will then pitch their idea to Richard Branson himself in a live event on the 26th June.

You can vote for all three campaigns by visiting the Pitch to Rich site here You can also find out more about the GCSE in British Sign Language on Signature’s website here

Liam O’Dell is a 18-year old who uses hearing aids in both ears. As well as playing the drums, Liam likes to read and write. You can find out more about Liam over at his blog:, or follow him on Twitter: @lifeofathinker

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Posted in: deaf news