British Sign Language

When Fourbirdsaboating started out in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia in 2010, one of the things which became evident, was the power of our project to meet the needs of students with disabilities. Pioneering the online platform, we discovered that we had a number of independent students signed up from around the world who for one reason or another could not attend formal education because of a disability. Not only were they able to access education for the first time, but they could also connect with other people who were disabled, and from another country. Unbeknown to us, Fourbirdsaboating had the power to tackle issues related to disability and to help break down taboos and stigma. One young man in particular, was instrumental in our desire to create opportunities for young people who had some form of disability. His name was Artur Zarafyan, and he was one of the first young people on our project. Despite being profoundly deaf, and having never met another hearing impaired person before, Artur was able to lip read and communicate in Russian, Georgian, and English. Artur remains a huge inspiration to the team, and in his honour, we want to help him connect with his peers in other countries.

Making British Sign Language Accessible to All

Using the online platform, Fourbirdsaboating will tackle issues of disability in relation to hearing impairment by:

  • learning BSL themselves
  • using BSL in film footage and live conversations from the boat where possible
  • adding BSL to any films made
  • having experienced teachers upload short videos and educational materials to the online platform so that hearing and hearing impaired students have the opportunity to learn BSL
  • provided free, online education to orphans worldwide who have been abandoned due to their hearing impairment
  • providing a forum on the online platform where hearing and hearing impaired students can communicate with each other, and share experiences of what it means to be hearing or hearing impaired
  • creating STEM specific educational materials for hearing impaired students
  • inviting inspirational adults and young people with a hearing impairment or disability, such as Paralympians to join in with video interviews and forum chats on the online platform

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