Deaf people wish more people in the UK knew how to use BSL – as many feel isolated from conversation

More than a quarter of adults would struggle to start a conversation with someone who is deaf.

Research, into 1,000 adults, revealed 20 per cent would feel uncomfortable trying to communicate with a deaf person.

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And more than one in five (22 per cent) wouldn’t know where to begin when striking up a chat with someone who is deaf.

As a result, 12 per cent are embarrassed to start a conversation, and this lack of interaction has led to half of the 683 deaf people within the research feeling both isolated and frustrated.

Love Island star reveals news using BSL only

The research was commissioned by Cadbury Fingers, which partnered with Love Islander Tasha Ghouri, and Strictly Come Dancing winner, Giovanni Pernice, alongside the National Deaf Children’s society to highlight the feeling of being left out of conversation experienced by four in 10 (41 per cent) deaf people.

Tasha, who was born deaf and was a BSL user before her Cochlear implant was fitted, gave an exclusive interview alongside the Strictly dancer, who partnered with deaf actress Rose Ayling-Ellis in the 2021 series, in British Sign Language (BSL) to highlight the feelings of exclusion experienced by the deaf community.

Using their platforms, which have a combined following of over two million people, they have revealed exclusive new gossip using BSL only.

The juicy news, revealed exclusively to the BSL speakers across the UK, saw Tasha update her followers that herself and boyfriend, Andrew Le Page, have found their dream house in East London after searching across the capital.

Deaf community wish to be more involved in conversation

Giovanni also used the opportunity to discuss how after starting his BSL journey during Strictly Come Dancing last year, he is ensuring to have translators at a number of his new theatre shows.

Tasha Ghouri said: “The UK has a large deaf population that often miss out on moments because of their disability.

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"It was important to me to use BSL to reveal that I’ve found my dream house to move into with Andrew because as someone who is deaf, there are times when I’ve felt isolated.

“I hope that by demonstrating how it feels to miss out on exciting news, small talk and conversation, that I am inspiring others to learn the beautiful language of BSL so everyone can feel more included.”

The study also found only 18 per cent feel completely comfortable engaging in conversation with someone who is deaf.

And one in 10 (12 per cent) avoid talking to someone who is deaf entirely.

Yet there is some good news, as 39 per cent of those who can hear are interested in learning more about BSL if they had the tools to do so.

With key motivators for wanting to including a desire for others to feel included (54 per cent), an interest in learning a new language (47 per cent) and seeking meaningful connections (29 per cent) with other people.

Breaking down barriers for the deaf community

The research, conducted via OnePoll, also found Tasha showcasing her ‘superpower’ on the ITV show inspired one in 10 (12 per cent) Brits to think about their perceptions of deaf people.

And 23 per cent cite Strictly Come Dancing winner, Rose, as an inspirational figure who has changed their perceptions of what it means to be deaf.

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It also emerged 76 per cent of those polled had never heard of ‘Dinner Table Syndrome’, the phenomenon in which deaf people are perpetually left out of conversations.

To help the nation connect and learn a little sign language, the Cadbury Fingers Hub provides conversation topics to get going - from “fancy a cuppa?” through to “typical British weather isn’t it?” and “what a goal!”

Susanne Nowak, from Cadbury Fingers, added: “Whilst BSL is only one way of communicating, we want to encourage the nation to take their first step in learning this beautiful language - helping break down the barriers between hearing and deaf people and facilitate more shared moments of connection.”

Susan Daniels OBE, chief executive at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said, “We’re not surprised to see that many deaf people say they have felt frustrated and isolated after being left out of a conversation.

"As a deaf person, it happens to me on occasion so I know how vital it is that that we work together to eradicate the barriers deaf children and young people face.

“This campaign gives people the opportunity to consider some of the challenges faced by deaf people, learn some simple signs and pick up deaf awareness tips.

"Deaf children and young people deserve to be part of the conversation as much as anyone else - so let’s all do our bit to help make it happen.”