Business Promotes Signs of the Times

by Catherine Smyth Media

PROFOUNDLY deaf Ayesha Gavin hopes her communication business will lead to a transformation in people’s perception of deafness.

Although born deaf, and her brothers suspecting there was a problem, it was not until Ayesha was four and at pre-school in Weir that she was diagnosed.

Back then, her family was told she should be sent to a residential school in Southport, but her father battled and succeeded in getting her a place at Northern Primary School in Weir.

She went on to get a degree in Media Studies, a degree equivalent in British Sign Language, BSL, and a teaching qualification and set up Ayesha Communications in 2010 offering deaf awareness and BSL courses.

“I actually only learned sign language when I was in my early 20s at university in Derby,” said Ayesha, 38.

“I found that I was not part of the hearing community and I didn’t feel part of the deaf community; I just felt isolated because I couldn’t communicate.

“I had hearing aids fitted when I was at Northern and I hated them, they just meant I could hear lots of noise around me.

“I was able to lip read, but even though I was deaf I was also always able to speak fluent English and Urdu from a very young age.

“Now my hearing aids are much more advanced, but I only use them to hear myself speaking and they alert me to noises round the house. In order to understand others I read their lips or sign.

“My daughter Evie, seven, was the youngest person ever to complete the first module of a Level 1 BSL and she just helped me to deliver a fun workshop for pupils at her school Northern.

“My son Alex is four and starts school in September so I will be able to concentrate on building my business.”

Ayesha, from Burnley Road, Weir, has just secured a contract with Shaw-based JD Williams, a clothing retailer with 800 employees, to deliver deaf awareness training and BSL.

She has also been delivering enrichment sessions at Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School and is currently running two Level 3 BSL courses, has a Level 2 course starting in Burnley at the end of January and a Level 1 course after Easter. A further Level 6 NVQ course will begin in September.

Ayesha will be running a BSL and deaf awareness taster session at Burnley Library on Tuesday February 16 from 1-2pm.

“The courses are accredited by Signature and are excellent for continuous professional development,” she said.

“On the courses I let people experience a taste of what it is like to be a deaf person. I give them hearing aids that simulate the sounds I hear and teach them how to lip read. They then have to figure out ways to communicate.

“I want people to be more aware of how to communicate with a deaf person and be able to understand basic sign language.

“It is a human right to be understood whether you are hearing or deaf and if more people knew sign language it would be a better world for deaf people.

“Knowing BSL allows me to communicate so much quicker with people who can sign. It is not just words, signing is expressive and descriptive and you use your face and body not just your hands.

“When I lip read, conversation is a lot slower and it quite tiring for me because I have to read what the person is saying rather than just understand the sign.

“There are a lot of people who teach sign language but only about 30 in the country who have the level of qualifications I have and are also deaf so have first-hand experience.”

To contact Ayesha text 07508 378250, email ayeshabgavin@gmail.com or Facebook Ayesha Communications or Twitter.

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