The news last week that actress Sian Blake had been confirmed dead, along with her two children, has led to many members of the Deaf community expressing their sadness on social media.
Blake had learned sign language and was well known and liked among Deaf people who knew her in the London area, where she had worked in Deaf schools giving communication support.
According to this BBC article, Blake was a registered Trainee Sign Language Interpreter and also used her sign language skills on screen in a 2007 episode of The Last Detective.
We asked John Wilson, a BSL lecturer, actor and arts practitioner for his memories of her. He said:
I remember Sian Blake very well. She was a “guinea pig” in my BSL class, at the RNID in 2005.
Sian was well known amongst us, not because she played Frankie Pierre in “East Enders” a few years before, but because she always had a smile and a friendly word for everyone. She was a natural in learning BSL too.
She was written out of “EastEnders”, because the viewing public hated her character – in real life she was the exact opposite to Frankie Pierre.
She told me that her EastEnders fame had been a career high but she was looking forward to new horizons and new challenges. She always aimed high so it was no surprise when she eventually became a sign language teacher and interpreter.
I was sad last year to hear that she was terminally ill with Motor Neurone Disease, which would have robbed her of her ability to use BSL.
She was a lovely person and will be remembered fondly by the many deaf people she worked with.
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
The site exists thanks to our supporters. Check them out below:
- Signature: Leading awarding body for BSL qualifications
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. Find out 7 things deaf people want you to know!
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- Eyewitness Media: TV and film from a Deaf perspective
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- Signworld: Learn BSL online!
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- Association of Notetaking Professionals: The professional body representing Electronic and Manual Notetakers
- Sign Solutions: communication support, training and translation
- InterpretersLive: On demand BSL video interpretation
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Hearing Choices: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- deafPLUS: BSL advice helpline
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children
- Royal Shakespeare Company: Captioned and BSL interpreted performances (see dates here)
- Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Residential education for deaf children
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Performance Interpreting: BSL interpreting at concerts
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people