A BROMSGROVE firefighter is urging more people to learn sign language as part of Deaf Awareness Week.
Sophie Newnes is an operational crew member for Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service and has a working knowledge of sign language.
It started for Sophie while she was coaching martial arts and had a chance to do a beginners’ signing course, which she found really interesting.
“Loads of the other emergency services are really taking it seriously now and I would like to go on to do further courses.
“I’ve made a point of learning how sign language could be used in my work as a firefighter when I’m on a shout – I have learned how to ask how many people are in a property and whether they are adults or children and where is the source of the fire.
“If I found myself in a situation where someone was signing, then I’m happy that I could understand what they were saying.”
Sophie added she had learned the full alphabet and lots of quick abbreviations and has even taught the basics to some of her firefighting colleagues.
“I have not yet had to put the skills to use in a work situation, only in my personal life.
“One of the basic things that everyone should remember is to speak the words as well when they are signing as many deaf people are very good at lip-reading too.”
Deaf Awareness Week began today and runs until Sunday.