My View, Bobby Roberts: Giving the whole world a positive sign

Bobbie Roberts, chair of Trustees at Doncaster Deaf Trust, holding the 'Spread the Sign' flag.
Bobbie Roberts, chair of Trustees at Doncaster Deaf Trust, holding the 'Spread the Sign' flag.

As you read this, a team from Doncaster Deaf Trust will be in Madrid meeting with colleagues from 15 European countries to showcase the latest developments that have been made on, the free international sign language website.

Spread the Sign is a fantastic project which will ultimately benefit deaf and hard of hearing people across the globe.

We are so proud to have been a part of this project.

And we are confident that the website will make it easier for people with communication difficulties to gain employment in countries around the world.

Doncaster Deaf Trust has been flying the flag for deaf and hard of hearing people from across the UK in this project.

And we were proud when two of our local MPs were among the first to officially show their support for the work we have been undertaking to bring sign language to the world.

Both Rosie Winterton and Ed Miliband wrote to the trust earlier this year to offer their support for the project and help to raise awareness.

We’ve been working with other European countries since 2006, when the project started, to develop the European Commission-funded Spread the Sign project.

Since then we have filmed 15,000 British sign language words for the website.

Spread the Sign is a great tool for deaf people but can also be used to help to promote deaf awareness in the workplace and help to equip people who are dealing with the public with some of the basic signs needed to communicate.

What began life as an online resource for students wishing to learn sign language in other European styles has now developed to a global online website and app which is being used from Japan to Australia and Germany to the UK.

We are thrilled by what we have achieved so far and all of the work our team in Doncaster has put in to get us to this stage.

We now need to look at the next steps and identify suitable funding or sponsorship to ensure that Spread the Sign continues to develop and provide people with the ability to communicate using sign language wherever they are.

There are approximately 70 million people across the globe who use sign language as their first language or mother tongue and Spread the Sign is a free tool available to help them to communicate.

Please do take a look at the website and see if you can pick up some basic signs – you never know when you’ll need them.

* Bobby Roberts, Chairman, Doncaster Deaf Trust