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Life without sounds

The ability to communicate using gestures, facial expression and body language

Maria Lopez Garcia | 08th August 2015

A guest post from one of our newest Project Managers, María López García

We are thrilled to have this guest post from one of our newest Project Managers, María López García.  Maria's videos are incredible and her story of how she launched her YouTube channel is a wonderful read.  Enjoy! ...

Have you ever wondered how your life would be without any sounds around you? How would you communicate with others if you could not hear them? How would you know if a train has been cancelled or stopped at a specific station if you cannot hear the live announcements?

I must admit that personally, I had not thought about it either. But everything changed when I had the opportunity to take Spanish Sign Language (Lengua de signos española, LSE) as part of my university degree in Translation and Interpreting. I had already studied 5 other languages yet it was LSE that was the one that hit me. Languages have their own charm and peculiarities that make them unique but the world of sign languages does not stop there. And yes, I’m talking about different sign languages in plural because, same as with oral languages, there is not a single universal sign language but different sign languages depending on the country (e.g. American Sign Language, British Sign Language, Irish Sign Language, Spanish Sign Language, etc.).

It was the expression and visual factor that hooked me into it along with the strong feeling of community and an embracing culture, the Deaf (note the use of the D capital letter, as a way of referring to an identity and culture as opposed to the generic use of deaf without capitalisation). My teacher was deaf and after every lesson, I would go back home thinking about all our conversations and how enriching they were. Shortly after finishing my degree, I moved to England and could not help but missing something… so almost a year later, I came across a British Sign Language taster session and it hit me again; I guess you can call it love at first sight!

I am now about to qualify in level 6 NVQ in British Sign Language and tend to dedicate a fair amount of my spare time to it. One of my hobbies related to BSL is song signing: I take a specific song, carry out an idiomatic translation into BSL and then perform the song in BSL at the same time the song is playing. The facial expressions are crucial but so are the representations of the beat, different instruments and other elements present in the song (a good example of this is my BSL version of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen:

With every song, I try to tell a story and make it as visual as possible so that people who cannot hear the music, can at least feel it. 

It all started as a one-off video, but the feedback received by the members of the Deaf community was so positive, humbling and encouraging that I started a Youtube channel where I currently post all my videos. At the beginning, I used to share my videos just with my family and close friends but as time went by, other people started sharing them as well and now some of my videos in Youtube have reached over 8,000 views, for example, my version in BSL of “All about that bass” by Meghan Trainor:

I still remember one of the first comments I received from a young couple with a deaf child thanking me because for the first time in their child’s life, he had stood up in front of the computer and started dancing with me!

The other thing related to BSL in which I spend my free time is volunteering with the NDCS (the National Deaf Children Society) as a communicator: I go out in weekend or day trips organised by the NDCS and help the children to access the information at all times using different methods (not every deaf person knows sign language, some people prefer using speech, lip reading or a combination of different methods) to make sure they enjoy themselves and have a fantastic time with other deaf children as well.

If you have never thought about learning sign language, I would encourage you to go for it and give it a go, it’s a skill you learn for life and you never know who you might be able to assist with it on your way!

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