It’s no surprise that as this year’s Strictly Come Dancing drew towards its conclusion and more and more focus was paid on the finalists, particularly Rose Ayling-Ellis, that the number of people interested in sign language increased time and time again. There were several stories on this topic through the series, but by the end, the BBC were reporting that:
The director of one firm offering BSL courses told Radio 1 Newsbeat enrolments have gone up by more than 2,000% since Rose Ayling-Ellis has been on the show.
There were spikes in interest after each episode, and a general upwards trend, proving that raising awareness is never a waste of time. Rose has done a great job on that front. But I have to admit, my own interest in sign language has also been growing because it has appeared in several other places as well.
The first of the most recent elements was probably Apple Fitness+, who do a lot to try and make their workouts inclusive, including some of the introductions and instructions using elements of sign language. It’s not particularly comprehensive, mostly just the ‘hellos’ and ’thank yous’ and ‘go teams’ but every little helps.
Then there was the recent Marvel series Hawkeye, which featured not only the titular character struggling with his hearing and knowing a little bit of sign language, but also one of the antagonists deaf from birth and relying on sign language and lip reading to communicate.
Rose isn’t alone in raising awareness recently, and so yes, I was one of those people searching for more information on learning sign language, what it entails, what the options are. Obviously your resources will vary depending on where you are in the world, but I’ve spotted an online British Sign Language course that looks to be a great place to start for beginners, with various options to continue if you find yourself a natural at it.
It’s resolution season, after all, learning something new and useful is always a good new year goal.