Who Are We?
We are Marcel and Sophie, the Directors of WealdBSL.
I have always been an active member of the deaf community. Being deaf myself, with a deaf family, I grew up in London where I was heavily involved in sport, competing against both deaf and non-deaf clubs. I helped set up England Deaf Rugby Union in 2003 and have really enjoyed watching it grow. I am also Squad Manager for one of the teams at Heathfield and Waldron RFC.
I strongly believe in doing everything possible to improve deaf people’s lives. Having moved with Sophie and our children to Sussex, I volunteer with DeafCOG, which is a Deaf-led organisation aimed at advancing the life opportunities, health and well-being of Deaf people.
I have worked as a Trainer and Translator for many years, and in December 2018 I had the honour of being the first Deaf Interpreter to deliver the first live BSL service on Channel 4 News, for Red Bee Media. Currently I am one of the Deaf interpreters working within Red Bee's BBC News BSL team, and I also work on pre-recorded programmes.
Over the years I have worked with many organisations to raise awareness and ensure that deaf people have the same access to information as everyone else.
I love the fact that my job takes me across the country, and enables me to meet new people from many walks of life. No day is the same, and the variety of organisations that I work with, whether Councils, Charities or Private organisations mean that it is never dull!
I was born deaf into a hearing family. After studying at college and university in the North, I moved to London and having lived and worked there for nearly 20 years, made the decision with Marcel to move to East Sussex to be nearer the sea. I have loved being near the seafront, or in the nearby woods with our three children and two dogs. Aside from spending time with my family, and my work, I love yoga, reading, cooking and anything to do with interior design or crafts.
During my time living in London, I worked as a Project Coordinator for several deaf organisations including RNID (Royal National Institute for Deaf People) which is now called Action on Hearing Loss. I managed several projects across London and the South East whilst in these roles, including organising workshops for Deaf people who were looking for work.
We set up WealdBSL after our move to East Sussex, to focus on BSL courses, Translation and Equality Training, allowing us to utilise all our strengths and experience. I love the challenge of the work and the people and partners we have the opportunity to work with.
We have many years’ experience working and volunteering in the Deaf community, and have partnered with some very well-known organisations along the way, delivering Employment projects around the South East.
What can we offer?
Established in 2015 as a training provider, we have successfully delivered Equality and Inclusivity courses and workshops in East Sussex, Kent and the South East. We are also an accredited centre with iBSL, which enables us to provide recognised certification of BSL Training for those wishing to learn the language.
We offer translation from English to BSL or vice versa. This can be across a variety of media including websites, information boards or any medium that can provide accessibility for Deaf people.
As a deaf-led organisation, we work in partnership with a fantastic team of freelancers allowing us to offer the highest standards in our teaching, workshops and editing. All our BSL Tutors are Deaf, with over 25 years’ experience between them. They feel as strongly as we do about BSL and Deaf culture.
What are our values?
We are passionate about inclusivity and accessibility for all. Our aim is to reach as many people as we can, providing guidance and support to create awareness, and to encourage those interested to learn sign language.
We aim for our workshops and courses to be fun, friendly and flexible. Our team work hard to raise the profile of sign language with our learners, to allow them to recognise it as a beautiful, expressive language.
Most importantly, we aim to break down barriers to improve communication for everyone. A wonderful historic example of this is Martha’s Vineyard in America. Due to the high number of families on the island with Deaf members, residents used sign language to communicate, whether Deaf or not, from the early 1800s to the 1950s. Research shows that elements of the sign language used originated here in the Weald! This is such a lovely example of the potential to live or work together without barriers, and that is the basis of our vision at WealdBSL.