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Signing for your apples: UK supermarket celebrates deaf and low-hearing community


27 July 2019 at 12:00 pm
Maggie Coggan
UK supermarket giant Sainsbury’s has marked its 150th birthday by changing one of its stores to a “Signsbury’s” to celebrate and include people who are deaf and have low-hearing. 


Maggie Coggan | 27 July 2019 at 12:00 pm


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Signing for your apples: UK supermarket celebrates deaf and low-hearing community
27 July 2019 at 12:00 pm

UK supermarket giant Sainsbury’s has marked its 150th birthday by changing one of its stores to a “Signsbury’s” to celebrate and include people who are deaf and have low-hearing. 

All staff members and customers were encouraged to sign with one another during the four-day initiative last week at the Sainsbury’s store in Bath. 

Electronic screens featuring instructions on how to sign words and phrases such as “milk”, “trolley” and “bananas” were also installed to encourage customers to get involved, and children received a fruit snack if they signed a basic phrase correctly. 

Over 100 staff members received British Sign Language lessons, and can now sign basic phrases such as greeting customers as they enter the store, and discussing the weather. 

The lessons were supported by Sam Book, a deaf employee of the store, who asked management if they could make the store more inclusive for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. 

Paul Robertson, Bath Sainsbury’s store manager, said the store had many hard of hearing customers and it was a great way to make them feel included. 

“We always want to make their [hard of hearing customers] experience as brilliant as possible, and we hope Signsbury’s helped better their time in store even more,” Roberston said. 

The initiative is part of Sainsbury’s 150 Days of Community scheme, launched as part of its 150th anniversary celebrations, which encourages all 185,000 staff across the UK to volunteer for a community cause. 

It has been supported by Rachel Shenton, the Oscar award-winning screen-writer who famously signed her 2018 acceptance speech. 

Shenton said she was thrilled to be involved in the idea. 

“It’s been brilliant to see the colleagues of Sainsbury’s be so engaged in the idea and it’s a great step towards inclusivity for the deaf community,” she said. 

“This feels like the start of something exciting and I hope it encourages more people to get involved.” 

There are around 11 million people in the UK who live with hearing loss and approximately 35,000 of whom live in Bath.  


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.


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