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Sign language lessons for staff at York John Lewis

A PIONEERING venture at the York John Lewis store to help deaf customers has taken hold.

Sessions to train staff at the store in signing for the deaf are attracting more and more interest each week, explained scheme organiser Matthew Chalk.

The initiative has already been praised from a customer whose five-year-old deaf daughter was greeted at the Vangarde-based store in sign language.

Business protection partner Jill Bowen was on entrance greeting duty when she recognised the toddler was deaf. After attending one of the sessions run by Mr Chalk, she promptly signed “hello” to the youngster.

She was immediately thrilled at the greeting, as was the girl’s mother, a friend of Mr Chalk. The delighted parent drafted her appreciation to the gesture on social media.

They said: “My daughter was so amazed as this had never happened to her before. You guys made her day and it made such a difference to her shopping trip. Thank you.”

Ms Bowen said the look of delight in the young girl’s face was a joy, adding: “She was just so pleased someone at the store was able to communicate with her. Even though I only know a few signs it was so worth it and Matthew has to be praised for bringing the facility to our store in York.”

The learn-to-sign sessions are being held weekly by Mr Chalk after he staged several workshops in summer to gauge interest.

Mr Chalk, who studied signing for the deaf at York St John University, said: “The response has been extremely good. We are regularly getting around ten to 12 partners coming along.

“To the deaf community it is such a boost to be able to communicate when they are out shopping. Imagine being somewhere where no-one speaks your language or you don’t even expect anyone to be able to communicate with you.”

*You can read the original article here