In southern parts of the United Kingdom, there is a city called Bath where a groundbreaking change happened at one of the largest supermarket companies in the country. Sainsbury’s had recently started its scheme called “150 Days of Community” in celebration of its 150th anniversary. Capitalizing on the moment to contribute back to the community, Bath-branch manager Paul Robertson and his team came up with “Signsbury’s”- UK’s first signing store.
What seemed to have been an overnight change of replacing the store’s iconic sign, and shifting up internal systems, was a long-term preparation where more than a 100 members of staff took up lessons in British Sign Language (BSL) at a local signing school I Can Sign. With the support of Manager Robertson, the staff including Sam Book, who is deaf, and Rachel Shenton, an Oscar-winning screenwriter known for signing her 2018 acceptance speech, Signsbury’s was initiated. It was opened to become a more deaf-friendly retail store as well as to involve the local hearing community in the initiative of social inclusivity, learning sign language, and being sensitized to the significant number of persons with hearing loss in Bath.
Sainsbury’s proudly supported “Signsbury’s” in its fulfillment of the company’s goal of clientele consideration community building. It had been noticed that Bath residents included a large number of persons with hearing loss of various degrees and the branch desired to create a supportive community starting from the retail store.
Signsbury’s will be open from 18th July till the 21st and staff will be seen signing to customers as they are welcomed into the store, buying their goods, and asked if they have a Nectar Card. Screens are installed in the store displaying how to sign various words like “trolley” and “milk,” as well as different phrases with the hope that, when they leave, they do so with some Sign Language fluency and an interest to know more.
By: Ann Yebei