Changes amidst the Covid-19 pandemic

Wiltshire and Dorset Deaf Association is working hard to keep our learners and teaching staff safe from the Coronavirus during these unprecedented times.

We have responded to the Covid-19 crisis by moving all of our BSL (British Sign Language) courses online in order to minimise the disruption to our BSL Conversation Class and our Level 1, 2 and 3 qualification courses.  We’ve launched our BSL classes in a virtual format and will be providing online courses instead of our usual face-to-face courses for the foreseeable future.

We understand that disruption to regular classes and the cancellation of exams will be unsettling for many of our learners.  As with any other language, it is important for learners to practise their BSL skills on a regular basis.  Thanks to our awarding body, Signature Deaf,  we have been able to offer all our Level 1, 2 and 3 learners FREE access to a comprehensive online library of video clips and support materials to help learners understand the assessments, develop vocabulary linguistics skills, and practice receptive BSL skills from wherever they are.  BSLHomework is accessible 24 hours a day on a range of devices.

THANK YOU to our BSL Tutors, Stefy and Lynn, and our current cohort of students for your commitment, resilience and willingness to adapt at this uncertain and worrying time enabling us to keep classes running throughout this health crisis.

We are also looking at the new possibilities open to us at this time.  With schools closed and families forced to stay at home we are launching an online BSL Family Signing Class for parents/carers with children aged 10+ who are interested in learning BSL together.  Sessions will run online on a Monday evening 6-8pm for 10 weeks starting on Monday 6th April 2020.  Thanks to George and Louise for coming together to offer this new class.

Stay at home.  Protect our NHS.  Save lives.

 

Communicating in a health crisis

With the UK now on lockdown it is more important than ever that people who are d/Deaf or Hard of Hearing are able to effectively communicate with others in order to access essential services and reduce feelings of isolation.
 
InterpreterNow is an online service that enables Deaf and hearing people to communicate with each other: https://interpreternow.co.uk/
 
If you’re a support worker now having to work from home, concerned about how to maintain contact with vulnerable clients at this time, this article from Action on Hearing Loss should also help you.

Coronavirus and our Classes

In light of the new Government guidelines on social distancing we have made the decision to cancel all planned “Sign’n Time” Baby & Child Signing Sessions for the time being and postpone the launch of our new Family Signing Class.  New dates will be scheduled once it is considered safe for us to do so.

We are ALL now being advised to avoid non-essential use of public transport and to reduce our social interaction with other people to help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).  With this in mind, it would be irresponsible for us to continue our face-to-face, group classes that currently run at Bournemouth Deaf Club and Beaufort Community Centre.

We are keen to minimise the disruption to our BSL Level 1, 2 and 3 qualification courses whilst keeping our learners and teaching staff safe from the Coronavirus.  We are currently exploring methods of delivering our classes remotely via video conferencing and the use of online learning resources.

In the event of us having to cancel classes we will communicate with learners via email.  Regular updates will also be shared on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Wiltshire-Dorset-Deaf-Association-206004556119497/ and here on our website.

We understand this is a very worrying time for many of us, particularly older people, women who are pregnant and those who have a respiratory or compromised health condition.  If you are concerned please look to reliable sources of information and advice:

Visit the NHS 111 coronavirus advice website NHS 111 Online – About coronavirus (COVID-19) or make a video call via https://interpreternow.co.uk/nhs111

The Department of Health and Social Care website is being updated daily with guidance and what the government is doing about the virus.

Thank you for your understanding.

Stay safe and stay well.