To mark Deaf Awareness Week (4-10 May 2015) Disability Support Manager (Student Services) Kate Waugh looks at how learning British Sign Language can improve employability…

British Sign Language (BSL) was recognised by the government as a minority language in 2003, and for some deaf people it’s their first language. This means that BSL users often need to use BSL interpreters to help them access services and work or study independently.

British Sign Language is a visual form of communication using hands, facial expression and body language mainly used by people who are Deaf.

Colleagues in BCU’s Careers and Job Prospects Team have produced lots of useful information about developing key skills to make you as employable as possible. On that list are communications skills, the ability to be adaptable and flexible, and to have great interpersonal skills. All of these things would be perfectly demonstrated by acquiring an accredited qualification in British Sign Language.

Many employers will be offering services to the public, and as such they have duties as service providers under the Equality Act 2010 to ensure their services are fully accessible by making reasonable adjustments for their customers. They also have duties as an employer to their disabled staff. A customer or colleague whose first language is BSL would be very impressed to find the person assisting them or working with them can communicate with them even on a basic level in BSL. A BSL qualification could really make your job application or CV stand out from the crowd, demonstrating your initiative, commitment to equality and diversity as well as to excellent customer service. In addition to being appealing to employers, many voluntary organisations may also be pleased to recruit a volunteer with BSL skills, particularly those working specifically with disabled clients.

If you have enjoyed our film demonstrating basic words and phrases in BSL and would like to find out more about learning BSL, visit ‘Action on Hearing Loss’.

Our Disability and Mental Health Advisers offer advice, information and practical support to all students with a disability, medical condition, illness, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Read more about the support we have available here at Birmingham City University.

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