Deaf Awareness Week

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This week is Deaf Awareness Week, which reminds us all to consider those who are Deaf, as well as highlight the everyday struggles that Deaf people face.

Deafness comes with many challenges, and it’s important to recognise and understand them regardless of your own situation. The theme for the campaign this year is inclusion, which encourages us to think about the things we can all do to help.

Alison Hendry is British Sign Language (BSL) Development Officer at the University. She shares more about her experience here at Edinburgh: “Being a Deaf BSL user at the University comes with its challenges but it has been really empowering too. Colleagues are very willing to adapt to my needs for communication and sharing information by facing me so I can lip read them or organising a BSL/English interpreter for meetings online.

“I can see that staff are more confident about utilising different methods for engaging with Deaf people and, following BSL Awareness training staff are more understanding about the importance of including Deaf people in every aspect of University life.”

The University offers BSL awareness training throughout the year to provide participants with a greater understanding of BSL as a language and encourage all members of staff to be more aware of BSL and Deaf culture. Sessions are regularly added and can be booked through MyEd.

You can find out more on the BSL webpages.

The awareness training is just one of the successes from the University’s BSL Plan goals. Others include more BSL translations of key information (including the Principal’s welcome video in Welcome Week, and Covid-19 updates), the launch of a Summer School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students and the creation of a BSL network for members of staff to practice BSL skills. If you would like to get involved with the University’s BSL Plan, you can read the 2021 summary report on the BSL webpages.

If you need any support on adapting any resources you have for Deaf or Hard of Hearing people, please contact

Deaf is used here to cover all degrees of deafness including but not limited to: deaf, deafened, deafblind, and hard of hearing.

Photography: Sam Sills