Two people are standing with their hands in front of their bodies, having a conversation using sign language.

In celebration of #SignLanguageWeek and the Go Blue campaign, General Manager Sara Chezari shares her experience learning Level 1 BSL at the Newcastle Deaf Centre.

Learning British Sign Language (BSL) has been a fulfilling experience. It offers insight into a sophisticated system of nonverbal communication and a deeper understanding of Deaf culture and its people.

What captivates me most about sign language, in general, is its expressiveness. Every gesture and movement carry meaning, sometimes literally and sometimes poetically. It’s truly a beautiful language. As I progress through my BSL Level 1 course, I’m not just acquiring linguistic skills but delving into the art of communication through space, motion, and direction while enhancing my receptive skills.

Signing is an innate and intuitive form of expression. Now that I am more aware, I am perceiving the limitations of words and how people naturally use their bodies, faces, and hands to add meaning and emphasis. As someone who has struggled to express themselves verbally, sign language has opened a new world of communication for me. Similarly, I am becoming acutely aware of the challenges and barriers experienced by D/deaf and Hard of Hearing people who have different access. We live in a disabling world, and we can change that if we all diversify our modes of communication.

I’ve been fortunate enough to engage and work with native BSL users and BSL interpreters, whose guidance has been invaluable in my learning journey over the past six months. I now actively advocate BSL to my friends, family, and anyone I encounter. Recognising the shortage of qualified BSL interpreters, I urge everyone to embrace signing and nonverbal forms of communication. Doing so can enhance access to the arts, foster inclusivity within our society, and improve our overall communication skills.