Welcome from Revd. Jen Croft, Deaf Advisor
Welcome to our new page! We hope that you will find these pages to be helpful and interesting.
Welcome! Whether you are hearing, hard of hearing, partially deaf, deafened or profoundly Deaf, the information shared here is for everyone. British Sign Language (BSL) has been my second language for about 35 years, I grew up with a hearing impairment, so I went to Bishop Auckland College to learn BSL and then later went to Doncaster College for the Deaf. My hearing these days is better than it was growing up, but I’m still hard of hearing and I suffer from tinnitus. I started teaching a basic 6-week course in BSL about 25 years ago, which enabled people to do their level 1 and 2 at college and learn the language in more depth. I was Chaplain to the Deaf in Coventry Diocese for about 8 years and established the Deaf Church there, which is still going strong.
Here are some helpful statistics about hearing loss in the UK :
In the UK about 12 million people have some kind of hearing loss. This means that 1 in 6 adults have a hearing loss. 9 out of 12 million are aged over 60, which means that there is a high percentage of people with hearing loss in our church congregations! Not everyone chooses to wear hearing aids, so only 2 million do.
Some people who have nerve damage that causes their hearing loss could have cochlear implants but this only affects about 12000 people in the UK. Tinnitus on the other hand is more common than we think, and it is associated with some type of hearing loss.
Here are some of the different types of hearing loss :
- Hard of hearing. This applies to people who have lost some but not all hearing and it can apply to any age group
- Deafened. This means that those who are born with normal hearing and then have substantial loss of their hearing later in life.
- deaf (lower case ‘d’). This is relevant to people who have a hearing loss, where they are born deaf or become deaf. They mix well in the hearing world and may communicate orally and may also be users of BSL.
- Deaf (upper case ‘D’). This refers to people who are members of the “Deaf community” and who communicate almost exclusively with BSL and this is their primary language. Deaf culture is important to them. They are often born Deaf and have Deaf parents.
- Hearing-impaired – anyone with any level of hearing loss.
The importance of lip-reading :
A large percentage of people with any type or level of hearing loss will use lip-reading skills and we all subconsciously lipread a little. Do you ever find yourself saying, “I need my glasses to hear”?
Since the beginning of Covid-19, wearing masks and lipreading is incompatible but the Royal National Institution for the Deaf (RNID) has drawn up some guidelines. Many of the UK’s 12 million people who are deaf or have hearing loss rely on both facial expressions and lipreading to communicate.
The RNID has been working with the UK governments to make sure the new regulations consider the needs of people who rely on visual cues to communicate.
It’s vital that people who are Deaf or have any level of hearing loss can continue to communicate in public spaces, while also protecting themselves and others.
Here is the advice and guidelines from the RNID about the use of masks:
Communication amongst the Deaf people consists of three elements:
- Facial expression
- Lip patterns and lipreading
- British Sign Language (BSL)
So learning BSL involves the use of facial expression and lip patterns, using handshapes and patterns and also the three-dimensional space in front of our bodies. It is a recognised language in its own right and is the only language to use both sides of the brain.
British Sign Language (BSL) is developed by the deaf and hearing-impaired community in Britain. It was recognised in 2003 by the British government and has almost 200,000 deaf and hearing users all over the country. Just as there is BSL, there is American Sign Language (ASL) and in fact, every country has their own individual sign language developed by its deaf community.
You might assume that BSL is just an interpretation in English but in fact, English and BSL are very different! BSL has its own grammar and sentence structures that are different from English, making it a unique language in its own right. Naturally, it’s a visual language and it requires you to use your hands, your face and your body to make signs and communicate. This can make it a very fun language to learn and use!