Today I went on a tube travel group organised by RAD (Royal Association for the Deaf). The purpose of this trip was to travel on the tube as a group and make our way to the Tower of London where we would have a tour in BSL when we arrived.
The idea is to help people become more confident using the tube network. This is something I could relate to, as since I lost my hearing, I used to find travelling on public transport a real challenge. This is because when you can’t hear, you lose a lot of confidence and things that were once simple, such as asking people for directions, suddenly became a real barrier.
I thought that this was a brilliant event and could see the people in the group being really engaged and enjoying themselves. We were helping one another get around and from the feedback at the end, I think other people would now be more confident getting around on public transport. From my own perspective, I was a bit worried that my signing wouldn’t be good enough to communicate well with the others in the group. I am currently learning BSL Level 2, but I usually don’t get to practise it as much as I should. This event was an eye-opener for me in that regard. People were very friendly with me and I felt that I could communicate with them (despite my limited BSL).
The tour of the Tower of London given by an amazing BSL interpreter called Laurence was brilliant. He explained things in such a visual way that I realised what an amazingly rich and visual language BSL really is. For example, when he was telling us about how people were tortured in Tudor times, his explanations in BSL were very graphic and captivating. I also really understood what he was saying to us, which I was really pleased about.
After this tour, I now feel that I really want to learn BSL more and practise more often in this kind of informal and friendly environment. As the day progressed, I could feel my receptive skills getting better.
The highlight of the day for me was when the tour finished and I saw the group all being very enthusiastic about the day with big smiles on their faces. I would like to thank Natalie, Julie and Aiysha for organising a great day out. I am really looking forward to the next event!