City Lit Blog

Adapting to change to support the deaf community

Story added 19th Aug 2020

City Lit BSL tutor, Emma Iliffe

There is no doubting that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges to the deaf community. As a very social community, people who communicate through British Sign Language depend on face-to-face interaction. COVID-19 has made us completely re-think how to continue delivering our various courses to give hearing students the best possible learning experience.

Let’s start with a bit of background. City Lit has been a central London hub for British Sign Language (BSL) learners for over fifty years and it’s a place where students can meet deaf people and enhance their learning. Our courses take place during the day, evenings and at weekends to help fit in with your busy schedule. Did you know that The Evening Standard listed us as the number one place in London to learn BSL?

Learning BSL is a unique experience. It is very different from a spoken language, with gestures and facial expressions playing a key part in being able to communicate. Our courses are something different and a great way to meet new people. They are more than just about the language, it’s about the deaf experience and deaf culture, which our experienced teachers are experts in. Many students choose to learn BSL because they want a career change and go on to work with deaf people as communication support workers or Interpreters. We’ve also had a lot of actors over the years too, who are attracted by the fact it’s an expressive, visual language.

Since the start of lockdown, our BSL tutors have adapted well, making use of video platforms such as Google Classroom and Zoom to continue teaching. Students have been incredible in giving their feedback so we can adapt and maintain the high level of teaching standards we’re known for. One of our BSL Level 2 groups was in the middle of their course when lockdown happened, and we are thrilled to say they all passed.

We’ve had to adapt our method of teaching as a result of the pandemic, and this means teaching through a combination of online sessions and face-to-face sessions. Our BSL teachers are highly qualified and make sure students feel comfortable and confident learning online. Technology has played an important part in allowing deaf people to communicate through instant messaging and video calling. We have also reduced class sizes to ensure you get the very most out of your course.

Thinking about taking the first step with us? We would recommend starting with the entry-level taster course and then you can progress to the various levels that we offer. We have a range of courses starting in September 2020 and we can’t wait to welcome you to the City Lit community

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