East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) staff learnt sign language basics during Sign Language Awareness Week 2024.

Delivering critical care all year round, the EAAA offered its personnel the chance to participate in British Sign Language (BSL) sessions online and in-person at its Norwich hub, Helimed House.

The courses were facilitated by SHBSL’s Stephen Hurley, who is an active part of the local deaf community with more than two decades of experience teaching BSL.

The EAAA's wellbeing group arranged this learning opportunity to enhance the support and development options available to the charity's employees.

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In 2003, BSL was acknowledged as an official minority language by the UK government.

Approximately 151,000 deaf people, along with others utilising it for work or family interactions, use BSL.

Mr Hurley said: "Learning just some very basic signs is crucial for emergency personnel, you never know where or when you might meet someone deaf or hard of hearing.

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"Knowing just a few words could make all the difference to the outcome of an assessment with a deaf person in crisis.

"It has been an absolute pleasure to work with East Anglian Air Ambulance and all credit to them being forward thinking and putting British Sign Language on their agenda."

The EAAA was recognised as one of the UK's best places to work in 2023 by The Sunday Times.

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Deputy CEO and director of people and culture, Sarah Atkins said: “We are really thankful to Steve for supporting colleagues at EAAA to begin to learn British Sign Language.

"EAAA is an organisation that cares for its staff, its patients, its volunteers, its donors, and local people.

"Additional skills, such as this, align with EAAA’s core values and help us to connect even more deeply to the community we are proud to serve.”