Deaf students took to the streets of Exmouth to spread awareness and help the public improve how they communicate with Deaf people.

The group, who are all students at the Devon-based Deaf Academy, took part in the activity as part of British Sign Language (BSL) Week, which began on Monday. It was established to commemorate the first time BSL was acknowledged as a language in its own right by the UK Government in 2003.

The students met people in Exmouth, taught them some basic signs and shared postcards with the alphabet in BSL.

In addition to this activity, students from the Academy have also been involved in delivering Deaf Awareness training to national organisations, such as the Police, the Met Office, NHS and the National Trust. All of the content is tailored for each organisation’s particular need, from explaining to the police how handcuffing a Deaf person takes away their ability to communicate, to medical terms used in the NHS’s breast screening clinic.

Mark Stocks, Partnership and Community Manager, at the Deaf Academy, said: “At the Deaf Academy we adopt a cultural-linguistic approach to our work, this means we recognise British Sign Language (BSL) as being a language that is recognised in law. Its community of users possess a unique cultural identity.

“One of the keys to our approach is giving our students a sense of belonging as part of a diverse, cultural and linguistic group and we do this by teaching British Sign Language.”

Mark added: “We are committed to educating the public in the needs and capabilities of Deaf people with a view to achieving greater integration between Deaf and hearing communities, which is why events like this are so important for our students.

“We’ve been warmly welcomed by the Exmouth community since we moved here from Exeter in 2020 and it’s fantastic to be able to come and meet people in this way, talk to them about BSL and the difference that learning even a few signs makes to Deaf people.”