Adrienne Dawn Ward is an Usdaw Union Learning Rep. Adrienne has recently arranged British Sign Language courses in her workplace and here talks about why she feels they are important.
I became a Union Learning Rep (ULR) after meeting with Usdaw Project Worker Lawrence Miller in October 2016. This intrigued me enough to become a ULR because I knew I would be able to help people learn new things.
Since becoming a ULR the achievement I am most proud of is proving to people how easy sign language is to learn in their own first language. Too many people assume incorrectly that communicating in sign language is difficult and hard to achieve.
By emphasising the fact that when you are signing in your own first language, the individual does not need to relearn their pronunciation and spelling of a word. Any two people who know the signs of the alphabet can communicate with one another on any subject they choose, by simply spelling the words. For example, one hearing person can discuss a medical subject with a deaf person via finger spelling alone.
With the assistance of Lawrence Miller, Sucha Singh (Southampton City College) and Trina Eales (ULR Bursledon Towers store) I was inspired to organise a ten week Basic Sign Language training course that people have enjoyed. Courses will accommodate minimum of 12 and a maximum of 16 learners so there is room for more members to attend if needs be.
I have incorporated the local community in delivering British sign language at Tesco retail stores in Southampton and Andover under the Usdaw name as most of the learners were union members.
Employees wanted to converse with customers that were deaf to give them a better shopping experience and I found that the employer gave full support in allowing employees to attend my courses as they saw a benefit to the business.
I have to date made a difference to 33 people’s lives, not just in the work place but in the community as well. I have another three courses all ready to start and I have started liaising with other companies to deliver these courses with the help of Lawrence and the union partnership agreements that allow me to enter their places of work.