SCORES of primary school pupils now have the chance to learn the basics of British Sign Language (BSL) thanks to Ayesha Communications based in Weir. The business is celebrating its 10th anniversary next year and was set up by profoundly deaf Ayesha Gavin, who was awarded the title of Enterprising Woman at Rossendale Business Awards.
She said: “At the awards’ ceremony I was in a state of shock. I was on the stage and I just couldn’t compute when they said it was me that had won. As far as I am concerned I am just doing my job; I am not bothered about recognition, I just want to be able to feed my children and keep a roof over our heads and hopefully if I can help someone along the way then that is even better.”
In September this year, Ayesha assisted facilitators to set up after school clubs in different venues in Accrington, Bolton, Bury, Halifax and Rochdale. She said: “I adapted the BSL 101, which is a recognised qualification that my daughter Evie obtained when she was five, to make it more accessible for younger children. The course is provided by Signature, but I have made it bespoke for children by introducing games and activities to get them thinking about the things they have been learning, to build their confidence and to get them to interact with each other. “Most of the clubs have six children and some adult members, but in Accrington the clubs have proved particularly popular.”
Sessions last 90 minutes and at the end of the 10-weeks, participants sit an exam to pass a qualification. In the New Year, clubs will be added in Burnley and Cornwall and either Preston or Blackburn, many are led by former students. Ayesha Communications currently offers Level One BSL courses in five locations. Level 2 courses are offered in three locations with one of the attendees having a two-year-old profoundly deaf child who has a tracheotomy and another family has a profoundly deaf nine-year-old child who attends a deaf school in Bolton. A further two Level 3 courses are offered and Level 6, the equivalent of a degree is provided at The Boo.
Ayesha said: “For many years I have been wanting to offer an interpreter training course and in January I will be going into partnership with Alexander Communications in Stacksteads and together we will be forming A+ Communications to deliver the course at The Boo. This will provide specialist training for people who want to go to work within the deaf community including within the court or clinical setting; it will open doors for those students. There are currently only 1,085 registered sign language interpreters in the whole of the UK for 150,000 BSL users, hopefully we can do something to improve those figures. I have had lots of occasions when I have gone for medical appointments and although I stipulated a BSL interpreter was needed they have provided me with a member of staff who has only learnt basic sign language.”
Ayesha is also working with St Gabriel’s RC School, Bury, to deliver BSL 101 for Year 7 and 10 students.
To find out more text, please don’t phone, 07508 378250, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ayeshacommunications.com