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Hospital staff learn sign language thanks to generous Friends of Worcestershire Royal


A successful initiative to teach sign language to hospital staff will be extended thanks to the generosity of fundraisers.

The Friends of Worcestershire Royal Hospital have donated  £4,000 to enable two further 10-week courses in British Sign Language (BSL) for staff to be run at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

The first 10-week course is currently underway, with 30 staff learning basic BSL enabling them to have simple conversations with deaf patients and relatives.

It was set up following an idea by Hospital Chaplain, Rev David Southall, and Porter, Steve Hartman, a British Sign Language tutor who himself became deaf 16 years ago due to a virus.

Thanks to the funding, a further 60 staff will also get the opportunity to enrol on the course which will include basic greetings, as well as simple conversations about food, family and daily life.

Rev Southall said: “We are so grateful to the Friends for their donation. The first course proved to be highly popular, with more than 50 people applying for just 30 places. I myself have been learning sign language at Level 1 for a year now and it has been so rewarding.

“I think we can make a real difference to the life of our deaf patients and relatives by learning this language and being as inclusive as possible.”

Carol Silvester, Chair of the Friends of Worcestershire Royal Hospital, said: “We’re delighted to help support these courses. Although these courses are for hospital staff, this is all about the support and benefit of patients as the more staff that can communicate with deaf patients the better.”

British Sign Language (BSL) is used by 50,000 people in the UK and our Worcestershire hospitals see frequent visits from deaf patients for whom BSL is their first language.

BSL was recognised as a language in its own right by the UK Government in 2003 and it involves movement of the hands, body, face and head.

Many thousands of people who are not deaf also use BSL, either because they have deaf relatives or as a result of some contact with the British deaf community.

For more information on how to support or donate to the Friends, visit www.worcsacute.nhs.uk/our-hospitals/worcestershire-royal-hospital/friends-of-worcestershire-royal