The disability charity Sense has helped over 50,000 people start learning British Sign Language (BSL) through lockdown, thanks to a fantastic digital campaign that began in May this year.

The ‘Sense Sign School’ invited people to sign up for free to be taught British Sign Language by the charismatic Tyrese Dibba, a Deaf and partially sighted 15-year-old student from Birmingham. His enthusiastic and dynamic presence on the teaching videos has been credited with the success of the campaign, and it is easy to see why.

The sign language campaign has been promoted on Facebook and Instagram, and everyone that signs-up is taken on an email journey and receives a new BSL video lesson every day, for five days. The initial target was 7,000 sign-ups over the course of three months, and this was beaten in its first week with 8,000 sign-ups. The incredible popularity generated national headlines, with Tyrese interviewed on national television, including Sky News.

Sense worked with the creative agency GOOD to develop the campaign, which aims to break down communication barriers, promote understanding and tackle social isolation amongst disabled people. Loneliness is disproportionately high amongst disabled people, with one in two experiencing it every day. Sense research also shows that one in four Brits avoid conversation with disabled people, because they worry about saying the wrong thing.

Tyrese has CHARGE Syndrome, and he and his family have been supported by Sense since he was six months old. He receives support from specialist support workers, attends events and participates in Sense Holidays.

Tyrese Dibba, said:

“I want more people to learn to sign, so Deaf people don’t get excluded. You should be able to chat to someone, whatever their disability might be. After all, no one likes feeling left out.”

Sense Director of Engagement, Chris Jarrett, said:

“Hundreds of thousands of people who are Deaf use BSL as their first language, and if more people are able to use it, we can ensure that less people are left out, which is our charity’s mission.

Everyone at Sense is tremendously excited about the campaign and believe it will help us acquire new supporters which will be vital for achieving our ambition of supporting more families and disabled people in future.”

GOOD Agency Client Services Director Nilesha Chauvet, said:

“We wanted to create a campaign for Sense that helped people authentically engage with those with disabilities; stepping into their world and experiencing a value exchange that worked both ways.  We wanted to challenge preconceptions and stereotypes. To celebrate our differences rather than hone in on limitations. Tyrese is a star, and he proves that people with disabilities can and should be at the front of campaigns like these.”

Sense Sign School campaign ends today Monday 17th August, but if you want to start learning British Sign Language, Sense have put together a handy ‘Sign Away’ guide that you can access here:

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