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!

17 Comments

  1. Please keep up the good work. Your signed songs are a fun way of learning sing language and encourages people of all ages. I work with secondary school children and we often use your signed songs to practice signing. I don’t think it matters if it’s BSL or SSE as long as people are having a go and enjoying it. There are always going to be some people who will criticise things, but I think you’re doing a great job. Keep it up!!

    1. Thanks Penny! It’s lovely to hear that they are helping. Communication is an important thing, and bridging the gap is really important. Thank you for using my videos too! 😀

  2. Wayne, I absolutely love your videos, I studying BSL Stage 2 in Belfast but am watching your Greatest Showman videos and trying to learn how to sign along.
    You’re fantastic!!
    I’m in Solihull for work quite a bit and would love to come along to one of your workshops 🙂
    Keep signing, fiona

  3. I love your signed songs. I work with a child who has cochlear implants. She still misses some spoken words so I use SSE to help her. She loves to watch you sign to the songs we often try to sing and sign along with you. I think you are reaching out to more people than you realise x

  4. I absolutely love your signed songs. I follow 2 signers of songs on YouTube one of which signs in BSL and you who sign in SSE. Because the grammar is different if I see a sign I don’t know of the BSL signed song it takes a lot of work to work out what that sign means as it doesn’t coincide time wise to the song that is being signed. Sometimes I work it out but more usually I don’t. With you I learn new signs because I immediately know what a new sign means because it’s timed with the song and so my knowledge of BSL signs grows rapidly by watching your signed songs plus making it all fun helps too.
    There is a complete lack of good signers of Christian music. Maybe you could sign some Hillsong songs? Or Matt Redman? I think even just having a few Christian songs signed with SSE would help me learn signs often used in Christian songs.
    I spoke to someone who sings/interprets professional Christian conferences and asked her whether she signs any songs in BSL or SSE and she said each song is a mixture. It needa to be mixed because deaf people wouldn’t gain the knowledge of the song but the SSE has enough English grammar to satisfy people who are hard of hearing so they have knowledge of English grammar but the signs help explain and expand their BSL knowledge. It must be extremely hard to sign jointly with both methods of signing songs.
    Hopefully you can SSE some Christian songs. The Hound and the Fox singing Mary did you know? Would be a great one to start with.
    You’re great and I really enjoy your signed songs, Hannah x

    1. Thanks for the lovely message Hannah! It’s interesting to hear different points of view on BSL and SSE songs. Thanks for sharing with me! Xx

  5. Hi Wayne.
    We met you at the first session at your Manchester Academy. My daughter is deaf.
    We are thoroughly enjoying our sessions with Emma and my daughter is doing well with the BSL interpretation even though she mainly uses SSE. It is giving her a new challenge and the success she’s having with this is building her confidence.
    From her perspective, she likes to sign along to songs that she loves so SSE is the best way for her to do that (unless in class with Emma’s guidance). She can read the lyrics and translate the words into signs so she loves to watch your signed videos.
    I absolutely agree with you that there is no right or wrong way but I feel enjoying the song should be first and foremost. There is room for everyone’s choice of interpretation and raising awareness of deafness and all the different methods of communication can only be a good thing.

    1. Hi Wendy! I remember you both well! I’m so glad you’re enjoying your sessions! Emma is fantastic! It’s also so lovely to hear that her confidence is building too. I hope she continues with it and flourishes with her signing! Xx

  6. Hi Wayne i am an 19 yr old woman, i have been very passionate about signing since I started singsong at my special needs school, I started singing signing mm 2012 and then 2 years ago I came across your videos and picked up a lot more, and now September 201&, I started my first bsl course level 1, I passed my 101 exam, I have major anxiety and I’m in a wheelchair I have a weekness on my left side so I’ve always thought nobody will understand my signing but I have a guy in my class which is deaf and I’ve grown confidence to sign to him and he feels so much better he has just 1 friend that is trying and learning signing!! My bsl tutor is Jayne “fletch” she is amazing, she’s helped me so much and also my friend and you also so thank you ❤️ Keep going and I love reading your blogs knowing I’m not alone with anxiety also and everyone staring at me x

    1. Hi Sophie,
      Thanks for sharing your experiences. Huge congratulations on passing you 101 exam, Fletch is fantastic! You are in amazing hands! It’s so lovely to hear that your confidence is growing, anyone can do anything with the right frame of mind, including you. And you’re proving that you can. x

  7. Wayne, as you know my boys and myself are massive fans. I don’t care whether it’s bsl, sse, makaton, singalong or a mixture it’s raising awareness which I think is brilliant. In this world you will never please everybody its just the way it is. I’ve was cristised for signing with my boys (yes they are deaf) but if I sign they won’t ever speak!!! What nonsense. My boys now both speak and sign and we use sse at home and it has meant they aren’t isolated and what’s more now k ow two languages.
    I think you are brilliant, please come to Norfolk I’m waiting to apply 🤣🤣 loved your visit to our school last year, pupils still talk about it and chatting to you its easy to see your passionate about what you do, don’t let no One dull that. You’re amazing!!!

    1. Thanks for the lovely message Sally! I remember your boys well, they are great kids! I’m sure I’ll be down in Norfolk soon! xx

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