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Free Deaf Awareness Training Sessions

different people around the globe showing the hearing aid symbol

We are hosting a series of Deaf Awareness sessions to help Third Sector organisations in Milton Keynes become accessible and inclusive to people with hearing loss.

This sessions will help organisations offer their activities to the wider community.

Who can attend the sessions?

These sessions are open to community groups and voluntary organisations. There are two places per organisation, on each training session

What will attendees learn?

Course attendees will learn about:

– the different types of hearing loss

– the barriers that prevent people accessing activities

– different communication methods

– how culture affects the perception of hearing loss

– ways to remove barriers to make organisations are more inclusive

– the benefits of being inclusive of deaf/hard of hearing people

Organisations will receive a ‘Deaf Awareness Kit’ full of information, hints and tips on how to become more inclusive. The kit will enable organisations to share newly-acquired knowledge with staff and volunteers.

Organisations can attend a second session to enhance their accessibility, by looking at making customer facing processes more deaf friendly.

Why are we running these sessions?

Organisations open to the general public often overlook deafness, because it is an invisible disability. This is despite the fact that globally, the World Health Organisation estimates that 1 in 6 people have some level of disabling hearing loss. For Milton Keynes, that equates to around 49,000 people. It is the second most prevalent invisible disability after arthritis.

Hearing loss can lead to isolation as people withdraw from socialising with others. Communicating with others becomes ‘complicated’ and ‘tiring’. Isolation often leads to loneliness, depression and other negative health issues that cost our society around £6,000 per person in NHS treatment and social care.

Families of people with hearing loss also experience social exclusion because events need to be accessible for everyone in the family, not just the hearing members of the family group.

Why are these sessions free?

These sessions are free because we want to ensure as many organisations as possible benefit from our expertise and knowledge. We were awarded a grant from Milton Keynes Community Foundation, who are funding this important work.

Should organisations wish to make a donation, they can be made via our Local Giving page Any donation would be gratefully received as it would enable us to carry on supporting deaf and hard of hearing people overcome barriers when accessing services.

What happens at the sessions?

Sessions are fairly interactive. Attendees will participate in a number of exercises to gain a better understanding of the difficulties associated with communicating when you are deaf or hard of hearing. Places can be booked via Eventbrite.

We don’t need training, we welcome everyone’

Saying you are ‘Deaf Aware’ and being deaf aware are two different things. We invite you to take our survey and let us know about your accessible activities. We can then share your details with Deaf* and hard of hearing groups in and around Milton Keynes.

Deaf* refers to individuals who use British Sign Language and consider themselves part of a linguistic minority rather than having a disability.

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Deaf history

Understanding Deaf* history and the impact of Parliamentary decisions on those with profound hearing loss is key to appreciating the barriers faced by sign language users in the modern world.

Deaf people have fought for equality for over 100 years and continue to fight, despite recent events that will increase access to services (British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015).

The internet has helped increase interest in British Sign Language (BSL) by both members of the public and politicians. Hopefully, BSL’s popularity will translate into equality and improved access. (Deaf* refers to native sign language users who view themselves as members of a linguistic minority).

Deaf history summary

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Top 10 websites to learn British Sign Language (for free!)

Top 10 websites to learn BSL for free
Top 10 websites to learn BSL for free

Learning sign language is incredibly popular and we know that finding websites where you can learn for free, or practise what you have learned, are hard to find. So, we feel it is our duty to share our knowledge and help make the world a  more inclusive place to be. To be honest, we’re surprised this list wasn’t created sooner, but better late than never!

BSL Signbank:

BSL Signbank is a great resource for anyone learning sign language. You can practice fingerspelling and look up a wide variety of signs. There is also a link to the BSL Corpus Project (see below) which has numerous video clips of Deaf people using BSL.

BSL Corpus Project

BSL Corpus Project is a fantastic website for people already learning BSL. The site provides a wide selection of video clips showing ‘Deaf voices’ from across the UK. This website is great for improving your understanding of sign language.


Signworld is useful to both tutors and learners alike. Learners can try the first lesson for free and then subscribe for further lessons. This site is often recommended to learners who attend sign language courses.


Signature is an awarding body for sign language qualifications. You can access free video content of signs from the first module of the Level 1 qualification.

Actual Signs

Actual Signs has a great BSL dictionary. There are a variety of signs under each initial of the alphabet. There are also video clips for topics such as countries. This site is great for those who want to increase their range of vocabulary or for those that need to practice.

Sign BSL

Sign BSL is another sign language dictionary that has over 21,000 video clips on the site. This website also allows people to upload their own version of a sign.

Spread the Sign

We love this website as the site is an international sign language dictionary. So you can learn a number of signed languages – we just hope you don’t get the languages mixed up!

 NDCS Family Sign Language

This is our favourite site because it’s a great resource for families who can learn sign language together. This is a great website for parents who might be unable to access sign language classes and who want to learn how to communicate with their child.


Signstation has an excellent resource titled ‘Learn BSL – The Company’ that explains how to be deaf aware at work. We recommend this resource to organisations that are considering improving the diversity of their workforce.


Mobilesign can be used to learn BSL on the move. The app is free and gives you access to thousands of signs. A great app if you are on a long journey and need to pass the time.

So there you have it – we could add many more websites to our list. However, these sites have been chosen for their accessible video content which is essential for learning a visual language.

Of course, nothing beats attending a class. Learning and using sign language are two very different skills – how else are you going to put your fantastic signing skills you learn online, into practice? Attending classes enables you to check that you can put all the elements of sign language together in a coherent fashion so you can actually communicate with someone who is deaf. Classes are also a great way to make new friends and start a potential new career path too.

We hope you enjoy visiting the free sign language sites that are on offer. Feel free to share with friends and family who might want to learn too and don’t forget to check out our sign language classes!