Many of my following know that I have been doing signed songs for a few years now. Part of doing this, I have faced a lot of support, and equally, a lot of criticism.
I am so incredibly grateful of the support I have received for doing my videos, as I absolutely love doing them myself. I’m so proud of the company I have created from the back of these videos, and I beam with pride seeing our team and attendees growing and doing so well.
All of my videos are signed in SSE (Signed Supported English), which means they are followed in the English speaking order. In my opinion, there is no right or wrong way of signing (to a degree), and I believe that using SSE, BSL, Makaton or any other variation is brilliant to see. If you’re looking to gain a recognised qualification, then obviously BSL is the way to go, following the sentence structure, grammar, syntax etc.
With signed songs, I think it’s a fun and interesting way to learn some additional vocabulary for BSL, and it really encourages those people who are not involved in the deaf community to try and learn some Sign Language.
A perfect example is a lady who attends my classes in the West Midlands came along purely because her daughter wanted to learn (children must be accompanied by adults in our sessions), and she really didn’t want to do any signing herself. Watching her get really frustrated and irate about the speed of the song, I genuinely thought she wouldn’t come back. However, because of her daughter, she had no choice. Fast forward a few months, she still attends our classes, and she’s just passed her BSL 101 exam! And that’s how music and SSE can really encourage people to learn Sign Language.
I’m not saying that it’s the only way, but it sure is a fun and positive way. In the same breath, I would never want to dilute the language whatsoever, as I know many people are very passionate about using pure BSL.
Flipping over to the other side, the criticism I have faced has been because of various different reasons. One of which is the fact I do not use BSL. This is a personal preference of mine, as I like to translate the songs as the lyrics are written. I enjoy signing to songs this way, and I am very open that this is not BSL. I recently read a comment that Sign Language is like a ‘spectrum’, some people use BSL, some SSE, and some that flicker in between the two. I thought it was really interesting, and actually quite accurate.
I also watched a really interesting video, featuring Maisie Sly, from The Silent Child, about people who use BSL, SSE and those who are ‘Oral’, check it out:I thought this really explained a lot about the language in the deaf community, and was very accurate! Another bit of criticism I have faced is that sometimes my signs aren’t always perfect, and that I sign some things a bit ‘wrong’. I actually leave these mistakes in purposely. The reason behind this is because I want to show that we all make mistakes, we all aren’t perfect, and it’s okay not to be perfect. I always carry out my research when I teach in my classes, and make sure everything is to the best of my ability, however in my videos, I’m a little more relaxed about everything.
I’d love to hear your views on signed songs, and if you think they’ve helped you in any way. Let me know below!